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23 Nov, 2021 10:29

Ex-world champ offers solution to ‘unfair’ new IOC transgender athlete policy

Ex-world champ offers solution to ‘unfair’ new IOC transgender athlete policy

Olympic bosses risk a "disaster" that could "kill" female sports if athletes with high testosterone are allowed to compete against rivals born as women, a world champion has warned while suggesting one solution to the fiery issue.

Under new guidelines issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), transgender women will not be ordered to reduce their testosterone levels to compete in women's sports categories.

Athletes will be allowed to feature in a team that "best aligns with their self-determined gender identity" under certain criteria, and will not be denied the right to compete over assumed advantages.

The documentation says that athletes "should compete in the gender category in which they feel best", with testosterone levels "not a criterion for determining the fairness of an advantage."

Former world indoor triple jump champion Yolanda Chen said she is not enamored with the guidelines and is confused by their wording.

"What does it mean, 'the gender category in which they feel best?'" the Russian asked Match TV, echoing the concerns of those who feel that athletes with higher testosterone levels will have an advantage.

"Of course, this is unfair. And if a man feels better in a female gender capacity, does he have the right to move to women's sports and win there? Of course, this is categorically unacceptable."

Now a respected analyst, Chen has watched the debate around athletes including Laurel Hubbard, the weightlifter who competed for New Zealand at the 2020 Olympic Games after transitioning as an adult, and the continuing controversy around attempts to create laws excluding transgender competitors from taking part in female school and college sports in the US.

She joined onlookers who believe that a separate field could be created for transgender sportspeople.

"If you are tolerant and recognize the presence of transgender people in life and in sports, maybe the IOC should consider introducing a third category so as not to discriminate against these people," Chen argued.

"But if a person with high testosterone levels competes in women's sports, it's a disaster.

"We already have bad experiences, particularly in athletics. It is absolutely impossible to win against these women.

"Women's sports will be killed. Women will have to either declare themselves transgender and increase testosterone levels in order to be competitive... or quit."

The IOC's new guidelines are non-binding. They had previously included gender testing and hormone changes if necessary, and human rights organizations have praised the switch.

"We really want to make sure that athletes are not pressured or coerced into making a harmful decision about their bodies," IOC head of human rights Magali Martowicz was quoted as saying by Reuters.