This week’s announcement of a ban on transgender women’s participation in international swimming and rugby competitions opened the door for athletics to do the same and sparked a wave of changes in Olympic sport’s policies.
The announcement on Sunday by swimming’s governing body FINA drew a flurry of support from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
Coe, who was in Hungary for the World Championships, said FINA’s decision was in the best interest of swimming. He announced that World Athletics, the athletics watchdog organization, will review its policies on transgender and intersex athletes by the end of the year.
“If we are ever supported in a corner where we have to decide between fairness and inclusion, I will always be fair,” Coe said.
Experts saw this as a sign that world athletics officials could use the FINA precedent to block the participation of all transgender and intersex athletes in women’s competitions. The term intersex refers to a clinical term that defines differences in sexual development.
FINA’s new policy prohibits any transgender woman’s participation in elite competitions if the athlete did not begin her medical treatment to suppress testosterone production before puberty or around age 12, whichever is later . ,
USA Swimming, the federation of sports in the United States, implemented its policy earlier this year, with the idea that it would later be equated to FINA. But this week he warned he would need time to determine how FINA’s policy affects his own arrangement.
In the event that the athletics follows the rules established by FINA, Castor Semenya, a South African athlete with a difference in sexual development, will be out of the race in his specialty of the 800 meters.
Also sidelined would be Namibian Christine Moboma, a silver medalist in the 200m, an athlete with a difference in sexual development and competing for the title at the world championships in Oregon next month. Currently, the World Athletics rules governing those athletes do not apply to the 200 meter race.
“By the end of this year, I think (World Athletics) will have announced a uniform policy for swimming,” said Ross Tucker, world rugby science and research advisor. “And they would say that if a man has gone through male puberty and gained the benefits associated with testosterone, they cannot compete in the women’s sport.”
The International Rugby League has banned transgender women from women’s matches until further studies are conducted to allow sporting regulators to come up with a cohesive inclusion policy.
And the International Cycling Union updated its rules last week on which transgender athletes are eligible. Extended the period during which transgender athletes on women’s teams must lower their testosterone levels by two years instead of one.
In football, FIFA has indicated that it is “currently reviewing its rules on gender eligibility through consultation with experts”.
Each game is individually defining currency. The International Olympic Committee framework, unveiled in November and taking effect in March, put each sport in charge of its own rules on testosterone levels.
That framework replaced an IOC policy that allowed transgender women to compete in the Olympics with other women if they had undergone hormone replacement therapy for at least 12 months.
The new, non-binding parameter recommends that testosterone levels do not determine whether one is eligible to compete, a position that World Athletics has not taken.
Tucker said he expects perhaps the “big four or five” international sports federations to follow in FINA’s footsteps, but not all – in part because many organizations are small and have teams of scientists and lawyers to conduct the research needed. There is a shortage. Detailed policies.
FINA assigned three groups to work on its policy: athletes, scientists/doctors and lawyers/human rights experts.
Decisions of FINA and other organizations will be appealed to the Court or the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This means that associations that adopt a rule will need scientific study and a legal basis to uphold it.
“What swimming wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t cheap either,” Tucker said.
Coe said that FINA “spent $1,000,000 in legal fees.”
“We’re not FIFA, and we’re not poor either, but there are other sports that are really afraid that if they go down this path, they’ll go bankrupt trying to defend it.”
Competitors at the World Swimming Championships in Hungary declined to elaborate on the new transgender policy this week.
“I think the question is, ‘If you’re a woman and you’re competing with someone else, how would you feel about that? It’s about fairness in sport,'” said Australia’s Moesha Johnson. Said, who finished fourth in the 1,500 meters.
Associated Press Writers Ciaran Fahey and Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.