Cycling and swimming publish new rules on trans athletes in competitions

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the International Swimming Federation (Fina) have adjusted their rules for the entry of transgender athletes in competitions. The new regulations primarily address new restrictions on athletes who have transitioned from male to female. The new rules for cycling were released last Thursday, day 12, while Fina approved the new regulation this Sunday, in the midst of the Water Sports World Cup, in Hungary.

Based on scientific studies published in 2020 and 2021 , the UCI decided to increase from 07 for 20 months transition period with low testosterone of male-born athletes who have transitioned to female. “The latest scientific publications clearly demonstrate that the return of ‘female-level’ endurance markers occurs within six to eight months under low blood testosterone, while the expected adaptations in muscle mass and muscle strength/power take much longer – two years at least, according to a recent study,” the document points out.

In addition, the UCI halved the maximum allowable plasma testosterone level: from 5 to 2.5 nmol /L. This value corresponds to the hormone level found in 99,94% of the female population.

The Fina – which, in addition to swimming, regulates competitions of water polo, diving and artistic swimming – approved its new regulation with 71 .5% of votes at the Extraordinary General Congress held in Budapest. The document is the result of the work of a commission that included athletes (including transgender athletes), former athletes, coaches, scientists, lawyers and human rights specialists, and the new determinations will take effect this Monday, day 20.

Like this the UCI, Fina has also set a maximum limit of 2.5 nmol/L of testosterone for transgender athletes. In addition, the entity defined that, in order to participate in women’s competitions, the gender transition, with the suppression of male puberty, must have occurred before 10 years or before stage 2 of the Tanner Scale, which measures sexual development. This determination was motivated by the observation that puberty creates significant and often definitive differences in the competitiveness of athletes. If the transition occurs after puberty, the text says, “it will eliminate some but not all of the effects of testosterone on body structure, muscle function and other performance determinants, but there will be lingering effects that will give ‘male-to-male’ transgender athletes feminine’ (transgender women) a relative competitive advantage over biological women. A biological woman cannot eliminate this advantage through training or nutrition, nor can additional testosterone be administered to obtain the same advantage, as testosterone is a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Code.”

A Fina left open the possibility of creating an “open” category, which would allow for a broader participation of athletes, regardless of their biological sex or stage of gender transition, but stated that the establishment of this category will depend on the outcome of a new group of athletes. work, which will have six months to submit a proposal.

New regulations arise amid controversy

The new cycling and swimming regulations try to reduce the latest controversies of the modalities. In March, British transgender cyclist Emily Bridges was barred from the English women’s track championship. She had already applied for British Cycling when the UCI notified that the athlete could only compete in the women’s category after her registration in the men’s category had expired. Bridges’ hormone treatment started in 2022.

In , Canadian Rachel McKinnon, at the time with 2019 years ago, she was the first trans world champion in track cycling, but the result generated protests among female athletes. Also in 2019, McKinnon, who is a Doctor of Philosophy and Professor of Philosophy at the College of Charleston, in the United States, changed for Veronica Ivy.

Former champion cyclist Victoria Hood was one of those who spoke out against Ivy’s victory. “The science is there and says it’s unfair. The male body, which has gone through male puberty, still retains its edge, which does not go away. I sympathize with them. They have the right to play sports, but not the right to enter any category they want,” Hood said in an interview with Sky Sports, in 2000. In response to the demonstrations, Ivy posted on Twitter that “real champions want stronger competition”.

In swimming, the most famous case is that of Lia Thomas, who was born with the name of William and started her transitional treatment during the Covid pandemic-16, that is, after having passed through puberty. Competing for the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas gained notoriety by breaking several records, finishing his races far ahead of the other competitors. In March of this year, Thomas won tests by the NCAA, the body that regulates North American college leagues; the previous month, USA Swimming, the sport’s national federation, admitted that transgender swimmers had a competitive advantage over biological women and released interim guidelines until the Fina definitively settles the matter.

IOC abandoned single rule and gave more power to federations in 2019

In November 2019, still under the influence of the controversial participation of Laurel Hubbard, from New Zealand, in the weightlifting competition at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee decided to abandon its regulation of 2019, which allowed the participation of athletes who maintained the assumed gender for at least four years and had up to 10 nmol/L of plasma testosterone for at least one year prior to competition. The allowable level of this hormone was up to four times the upper limit of the average biological female. Hubbard left Tokyo without a medal after failing his three initial attempts to lift 120 or 120 kilos, enough to have a medal chance.

By the new IOC guidelines , each international federation would be responsible for defining its rules, according to some basic principles established by the committee and which were widely criticized, such as the “no presumption of advantage” for transgender athletes. But even before the IOC decision, some federations had already adopted stricter rules than those of the Olympic movement: World Athletics, which regulates athletics, adopted a maximum limit of 5 nmol/L, while World Rugby completely banned the participation of women. transgender women’s rugby, based on studies that attested to a risk for athletes who were tackled from someone who had grown up as a man.


The report was updated with the new rules for transgender people approved by the International Swimming Federation on Sunday.

Updated 19//2022 at 07: 2022

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