Sports federation allows transgender competitors
World Triathlon, the official governing body for the multi-sport athletic discipline, has voted to keep rules which allow transgender women to compete alongside naturally-born women in a move which stands in opposition to recent decrees made in swimming and rugby league.
The group, which has close ties to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), argued that the decision was made in the interest of preserving fairness within the sport.
However, some scrutiny will still apply: transgender athletes will be required to maintain testosterone levels for two years rather than the existing one, while they will also be required to wait for four years before taking part in competition if they have previously raced as a male.
“To compete in the female category in an elite or age-group triathlon competition, a transgender athlete must demonstrate that the concentration of testosterone in the athlete’s serum has been less than 2.5 nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 24 months,” it said of the new policy, which will come into effect next month.
“Also, at least 48 months must have elapsed since the transgender athlete has competed as a male in any sporting competition.”
World Triathlon also revealed in its statement that the decision was not a unanimous one, and that it wasn't backed by vice president Ian Howard nor Tamas Toth, who serves as the president of the athlete's committee.
The move is also likely to incite protest from women's sports campaigners, many of whom have openly stated criticism of transgender athletes competing in female competition, such as that of US collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas.
British Triathlon quite notably reached a different conclusion to the sport's global governing body, after implementing rules which require transgender athletes over the age of 12 to compete in an open category aimed at “all individuals including male, transgender and those non-binary who were male sex at birth”.
World Triathlon, though, have appeared steadfast in their decision making.
“We are a small International Federation, but one that has always had inclusion and gender balance in our DNA,” its president Marisol Casado, who is also a member of the IOC, said.
“The policy that we have just approved shows that we are prioritizing the fairness principle but showing inclusiveness. It is fully aligned with the IOC’s recommendation, and similar to what other international federations have done in the last months.”
Sharron Davies, the three-time British Olympic swimmer who has been a noted critic of rules permitting transgender athletes competing in female categories, expressed her dismay at the conclusion reached by World Triathlon.
“I am beyond ashamed & disappointed, after watching recently so many fabulous female athletes succeed,” she wrote on Twitter.
“We know we have less opportunity already & yet an international governing body can make trans rules against the science & without asking their female athletes.”