World Athletics bans transgender women from female events

New rules will also make it difficult for athletes like two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya to compete.

General view at venue for track and field events
The decision was announced after a after a meeting of the decision-making body of the global track and field federation [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

Transgender women will no longer be allowed to compete in female track and field events regardless of their levels of testosterone, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe says.

No female transgender athlete who had gone through male puberty would be permitted to compete in female world ranking competitions from March 31, Coe said.

Speaking after a meeting of the global track and field federation’s decision-making body on Thursday, Coe said World Athletics had consulted with stakeholders, including 40 national federations, the International Olympic Committee and trans groups about the issue of transgender athletes.

“The majority of those consulted stated that transgender athletes should not be competing in the female category,” he said.

“Many believe there is insufficient evidence that transwomen do not retain advantage over biological women and want more evidence that any physical advantages have been ameliorated before they are willing to consider an option for inclusion into the female category.”

He added: “The judgement we took … was, I believe, in the best interests of our sport.”

“Not saying ‘no’ forever”

Coe said a working group headed by a transgender person would be created to further monitor scientific developments.

“We’re not saying ‘no’ forever,” Coe said.

“We continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” he said. “We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage, which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”

World Athletics said it became apparent that there is “little support within the sport” for an option that was presented to stakeholders that required transgender athletes to maintain their testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre of blood for 24 months to be eligible to compete internationally in the female category.

“There are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics and consequently no athletics-specific evidence of the impact these athletes would have on the fairness of female competition in athletics,” the World Athletics Council said in a statement. “In these circumstances, the Council decided to prioritise fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion.”

Tighter rules for athletes with DSD

The council also voted to tighten restrictions on athletes with Differences in Sex Development (DSD).

Under the new regulations, DSD athletes will have to reduce their amount of blood testosterone to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre, down from the current level of 5, and remain below this threshold for two years rather than just one, as is the case now, to compete in the female category.

The most high-profile DSD athlete is double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa.

Semenya has been trying to compete in longer events. She finished 13th in her qualifying heat at 5,000 meters at the world championships last year.

To compete at next year’s Olympics, she would have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment for six months, something she has said she will never do again, having undergone the treatment a decade ago under previous rules.

Source: News Agencies