World Athletics announces ban on transgender athletes

World Athletics has announced that from the end of this month, no transgender athlete will be able to participate alongside members of the opposite sex if they experienced male puberty.

This will replace the rule which allowed male-born athletes to compete alongside women if they had artificially reduced their testosterone level below a certain level for twelve months.

President Lord Sebastian Coe said the decision was “guided by the overarching principle which is to protect the female category”, but said the athletics’ governing body would continue to work on transgender eligibility guidelines.

‘Compromise integrity’

After a consultation of key stakeholders, including 40 member federations, athletes, transgender groups and coaches, the Council agreed that biological men should not be allowed to compete alongside women at elite level.

The Council felt that allowing them to do so would “compromise the integrity of female competition”, and so they “cannot in all conscience” allow the rules to remain as they currently stand.

Lord Coe said the decision was “in the best interest of our sport”, adding: “Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations.”

‘Guided by science’

However, he said the matter was not closed, and that World Athletics would be “guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”

The four-time Olympic medal winner also said a working group would be set up to establish transgender eligibility guidelines.

The group will consult with transgender athletes to seek views on competing in athletics, review existing research and commission further research where data is insufficient to draw meaningful conclusions, and then to make recommendations to the World Athletics Council with regard to future eligibility.

‘Safe and fair’

Former Olympian Sharron Davies MBE said: “I’m quite emotional. I’m so pleased Seb has protected female athletes around the world at long last. It shouldn’t have taken this long. I’ve been on this course for five years and it’s been a hard road. Sport is about safety and fairness, then inclusion – in that order.”

She also thanked those who had supported her as she spoke out against male participation in women’s sport, saying: “Hopefully we have our sport back. Sport is for all but only where you qualify in the fair category for your biological reality. We’ll keep fighting till all girls’ sport is protected.”

“Sport is for all. But it must be safe, fair & then inclusive. Not the other way round. Let’s have respectful debate & find places for everyone.”

Also see:


Study indicates trans women outperform women in sport

Sporting Council: ‘Safety and fairness cannot co-exist with trans inclusion’

International sports bodies strengthen protections for women’s sport

Sharron Davies: RFU inaction puts ‘female athletes in danger’

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