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27 Oct, 2022 16:17

Olympic chief backs trans participation, but not Russian

Thomas Bach said people should be able to access sport ‘without discrimination’
Olympic chief backs trans participation, but not Russian

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has given his thoughts on trans participation in sports during an interview in which was he was also asked about the sweeping bans imposed on Russia.

Speaking to Spanish daily newspaper Marca, Bach was asked to explain his position on transgender athletes participating in sport, which was described as a “big, current issue.”

“Our principles are that everyone has to have access to sport without discrimination. When we talk about competition, the mission of those responsible for it is to make it fair,” Bach said.

“Our recommendations to all international federations is that they follow two processes: that they talk to all those involved with women, transsexuals, human rights experts, scientists, doctors and, based on science, make the decision of where fair play ends and where it begins.”

The IOC released fresh frameworks in November and said there should be no presumption that trans women have advantages over female rivals, while suggesting no requirement for them to suppress testosterone levels.

The IOC did, however, leave the final decision on trans participation with individual sporting federations, leading world swimming governing body FINA to ban trans women from women’s events and cycling counterpart UCI to decide that the permitted level will be 2.5 nanomoles per liter for a 24-month period.

Marca mentioned to Bach that the IOC faces a big challenge on deciding whether to allow Russian athletes to compete against Ukrainians again, after recommending a ban on Russian athletes and teams from global competitions when Moscow began its military operation in late February. 

Bach said that rumors of Russia returning to the international fold was “speculation at this point.” 

“We are very clear that this is not the time to allow these recommendations, but our mission is also to think in the long term. And our mission is to unite all athletes in the world in peaceful competition, even if their countries are at war. Or in other situations,” Bach said.

“We have Israelis and Palestinians competing against each other, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, athletes from Yemen and Saudi Arabia. From Libya and France…

“If you have a competition only of like-minded countries, it could be a great sporting event, but it is not a symbol of peace. However, this is not the time, as I said, to make such decisions.”

RT

Asked what can happen with sports whose federations are led by Russians or Belarusians such as boxing, Bach said that boxing “has nothing to do with nationality.” 

“It is necessary to separate [them]. What can happen with the IBA (International Boxing Association) must not be linked with the nationality of the head of this federation [Umar Kremlev]. 

“The problems already came from before,” Bach said, in reference to boxing being overseen by the IOC at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and not being included in the Los Angeles 2028 program as it awaits Kremlev and the IBA to make reforms.

“They are another series of things such as corruption, requirements of good governance, [and] financial problems due to the little autonomy it may have depending on a single sponsor (Gazprom) of the Russian Federation,” Bach added. 

Marca brought up the case of then-15-year-old Russian figure skating prodigy Kamila Valieva, whose December 25 positive test for a banned substance used to treat angina emerged at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, after she had helped the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) win the team event. 

The newspaper asked Bach if he understood the position of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), which last week announced that it will keep the details of its investigation into the failed test confidential while citing Valieva’s status as a protected person due to her age. 

“We clearly showed our position already in Beijing by appealing to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) together with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after the RUSADA decision was known,” said Bach. 

“We lost, and now the proceedings are following WADA’s rules of confidentiality. Although RUSADA’s position is to remain silent until there is a final verdict, WADA and the IOC can appeal the outcome.

“This would be the legal side. But in terms of transparency, we join WADA in asking RUSADA to make the data public to give everyone more credibility in this procedure,” Bach concluded.

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