The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has weakened its guidelines on transsexual athletes because its previous position might have flouted “notions of human rights”.
Under the new recommendations, people who were born male but are now living as women must prove they have a set level of testosterone for at least twelve months before a competition.
Those who live as men but were born female are “eligible to compete in the male category without restriction”, the guidance states.
At an IOC ‘Consensus Meeting’ last year, it was decided that requiring athletes to have “surgical anatomical changes” was not necessary to preserve fair competition.
The IOC said the change should encourage individual national athletic associations to make similar decisions.
The guidelines note a “growing recognition of the importance of autonomy of gender identity in society”, while also recognising that countries take differing stances on the issue worldwide.
It states: “The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition.
“Restrictions on participation are appropriate to the extent that they are necessary and proportionate to the achievement of that objective.
“To require surgical anatomical changes as a pre-condition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”
IOC Medical & Scientific Director, Dr Richard Budgett, commented: “I don’t think many federations have rules on defining eligibility of transgender individuals”, adding: “This should give them the confidence and stimulus to put these rules in place.”
A medical professional who was at the IOC meeting and is transsexual said the one year waiting period is a “reasonable compromise”, and described some athletics groups’ policies as “outdated”.
Earlier this month in the UK, a former Government minister said a person’s sex is not relevant for passports or driving licences.
Maria Miller’s comments came ahead of a report from MPs which called for a move towards “self-declaration” of gender.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, commented that the report was “morally and scientifically illiterate”.
“Transsexual people are absolutely entitled to the same dignity as anyone else. But MPs must stop trying to force people to agree with transsexualism itself”, he added.