Navratilova: ‘Letting men compete against women is insane and it’s cheating’

Tennis great Martina Navratilova has said it is “insane” that men who say they are women are allowed to participate in women’s sport.

The vocal homosexual rights campaigner was harassed on social media by a transgender cyclist after she said, “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women.”

After being branded ‘transphobic’ in December, Navratilova promised to keep quiet until she had done more research. “Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened.”


Writing for The Sunday Times, nine times Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles champion Navratilova said trans athletes’ advantage over biological women is not negated by reducing hormone levels – the prescription most sports have adopted.

“A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood.”

“Indeed, if a male were to change gender in such a way as to eliminate any accumulated advantage, he would have to begin hormone treatment before puberty.”


She said: “To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune and then reverse his decision to go back to making babies if he so desires.”

“It’s insane and it’s cheating.”

Canadian cyclist Rachel McKinnon was 6ft tall and weighed more than 14 stone when he controversially won the women’s Masters Track Cycling World Championships in October.

“If girls and women can never win, they will leave sport in droves.”

‘Science, not ideology’

New guidelines introduced by the International Olympic Committee in 2016 allow men identifying as women to compete once they have reduced their testosterone to an agreed level.

Nicola Williams, from women’s rights group Fair Play for Women (FPW), called for current guidelines to be reviewed on the basis of “science, not ideology”.

She said: “We are approaching a decision point because there will soon be more Rachel McKinnons, but without fair competition sport becomes meaningless.

“If girls and women can never win, they will leave sport in droves.”

Unwilling to debate

Rachel McKinnon found himself at the centre of another controversy this week after it emerged he refused to debate Williams on BBC Radio 5 Live.

The BBC had originally invited Williams to discuss Navratilova’s comments on transgender participation in sport, but the invitation was withdrawn when McKinnon said he would only appear on the show if Williams was not allowed to debate with him.

He said the BBC should not take FPW seriously, and compared the women’s rights group to the Ku Klux Klan.

The BBC said Williams was offered a segment later in the programme, or to respond in a subsequent show, but she declined.

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