World Athletics president hints at banning trans people

The president of World Athletics has suggested that biologically male transgender athletes could be banned from competing in international women’s competitions, stating that “biology trumps gender”.

Lord Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, the governing body for international athletics competitions, has hinted that the organization may adopt new eligibility requirements that could ban trans athletes from facing women, as he praised Fina’s decision to ban transgender people who experienced male puberty from female swimming matches.

“We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interests of its sport,” Coe told BBC Sport.

“This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations accordingly. We will follow the science.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant of performance, and we have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council for the end of the year.”

Lord Coe, a former Conservative member of parliament in the British House of Commons, has already introduced restrictions on trans athletes as president of World Athletics, requiring that testosterone levels must be below five nanomoles per liter (5nmol/L) to enter. in a women’s competition.

In 2021, the International Olympic Committee said each sport should make its own determinations on whether transgender athletes would have a disproportionate advantage in light of individual aspects of the sport, prompting a recent wave of restrictions on trans athletes.

On Monday, the International Rugby League (IRL) announced it will ban biological men from playing against women “until further research is completed”.

The IRL, citing the Olympic Committee’s ruling, said that as a contact sports league it has a “responsibility to balance the individual’s right to participate, a long-standing principle of rugby league and at its core from the day it was established, against perceived risk to other participants, and to ensure that everyone receives a fair hearing.”

Monday’s decision means that trans athletes will not be able to participate in the upcoming Women’s Rugby League World Cup in October and November. The change by the International Rugby League follows a similar ban by World Rugby, which stated in 2020 that the risk of injury to female athletes was too great given the natural strength advantages of biological men, even after receiving hormonal drugs. to suppress testosterone production. .

Over the weekend, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), the governing body for international swimming competitions, ruled that any athlete who has gone through the male puberty cycle should be barred from women’s races, saying such Athletes maintain a “relative performance advantage over biological females” even after testosterone-lowering medication.

Lord Coe, who was in Budapest as Fina’s guest on Monday, said: “We have always tried to find a fairway. We have not wanted to stigmatize… But at the moment of truth, if it is a trial between inclusion and equity, we will always fall on the side of equity, that for me is not negotiable.

While the regulations are currently under review, she added that “the integrity of women’s sport is very, very important here, and we cannot have a generation of girls thinking there is no future for them in sport.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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