World Athletics announces ban on trans women


The World Athletics Council has voted to ban transgender women from competing in elite female events in order to “protect the future of the female category”.

President of the group, Seb Coe, said World Athletics consulted with stakeholders including the International Olympic Committee and national federations before making the decision.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the decision-making body, Coe said:

“The Council has agreed to exclude male or female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female world ranking competitions from March the 31st this year.”

“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,” he says.

“We believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”

“Overarching principle of fairness”

He also acknowledged that an “overarching principle” of fairness should guide all sport, although the decision may be contentious.

The move comes after World Athletics received little support for its previous preference, which was to continue allowing trans women to compete in the female category but tighten the sport’s eligibility rules.

The International Olympic Committee’s framework on trans athletes states that individual federations should determine eligibility criteria for their sport.

LGBT campaign group Stonewall described the decision as “disappointing” – and criticised World Athletics for “closing the door” on trans people competing at an international level.

“It is so disappointing to see World Athletics announce a unilateral ban on trans women in track and field events,” they tweeted this morning.

“Their own statement recognises that there are no trans women competing at an international level and that they have no specific evidence to justify the ban.”

Decision is not final

However, Coe also pointed out that the decision is not final and will be revised as more evidence becomes available.

He explained that they will put in place a working group to conduct further research into trans eligibility guidelines over the next 12 months.

The group will be chaired independently and include up to three council members, two athletes from the Athletes’ Commission, a trans athlete, three people from World Athletics’ member federations, and members from the World Athletics health and science department.

The group will consult with trans athletes, review and commission research, and make recommendations to the Council.

Additionally, World Athletics has decided to reduce the amount of blood testosterone permitted for athletes with differences of sex development (DSD) conditions.

The new policy will require them to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre and remain under this threshold for two years to compete internationally in the female category in any track and field event.

He also noted that there are currently no trans athletes competing internationally in the sport.

The new policy will come into effect from 31 March.

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Nate Woodall

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