Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Explainer-Why swimming's transgender ruling is important to the sports world

World Jun 19, 2022 04:41PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Water Polo - FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final 2021 - Semi Final - USA v Russia - Olympic Indoor Pool, Athens, Greece - June 18, 2021 General view during the match REUTERS/Costas Baltas

(Reuters) - World swimming's governing body FINA on Sunday voted for new eligibility rules that restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women's competitions.

The policy is the strictest from any Olympic sports body and effectively bars any transgender women who have gone through male puberty from competing in women's events.

FINA also agreed to work towards establishing an "open" category for some events that would ensure all swimmers would have the chance to compete.

The decision means that swimmers such as American Lia Thomas will not be able to compete in world championships or the Olympics.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Thomas became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history after winning the women's 500-yard freestyle earlier this year.

The success of Thomas, who competed on Pennsylvania's men's team for three years before transitioning and setting multiple programme records with the women's team, provoked a wide-ranging debate about the issues of inclusivity and competitive fairness in swimming and sport in general.

Here is the background to FINA's decision and why this ruling is important to the world of sport:

WHY DID FINA TAKE THIS DECISION?

There have been growing calls from former swimmers and coaches for the governing body to restrict the participation of transgender women in the sport, which intensified after Thomas's success at the U.S. college championships.

Those who campaigned for change argued that people who have gone through male puberty have physical advantages and therefore women's competition needed to be protected.

Supporters of trans participation argue that not enough research has been done into the question of whether trans women have any advantage. Groups such as Athlete Ally have stated that FINA's new policy is "discriminatory, harmful, unscientific".

IS THIS A BAN ON ALL TRANSGENDER SWIMMERS IN COMPETITION?

The ruling only applies to elite competitions run by FINA, such as their world championships, and competitions where FINA sets the eligibility criteria - primarily the Olympic Games. It also impacts on who is eligible to set a world record in women's swimming.

It does not necessarily apply to national or regional competitions or lower-level meets. National federations could apply their own criteria for their competitions.

The ruling also only impacts on transgender athletes in women's competitions. Female-to-male transgender athletes(transgender men) will continue to be eligible to compete in men's races without any restriction.

The creation of an 'open category', details of which have yet to be worked out, would also create a space for transgender women to compete.

WHAT EVIDENCE DID FINA PRODUCE BEFORE MAKING THIS DECISION?

The new FINA policy came out of a working group that had three components - an Athlete Group, a science and medicine group and a legal and human rights group, which FINA says studied "the best available statistical, scientific, and medical evidence concerning sex differences in sports performance, and any associated male sex-based advantage".

FINA said the Science Group was comprised of "independent experts in the fields of physiology, endocrinology, and human performance, including specialists in sex differences in human performance and in transgender medicine."

Delegates to the FINA congress in Budapest were told by members of the group that the evidence showed that going through male puberty gave trans women swimmers a physical advantage that remained even after hormone treatment as part of their transition.

WHAT IS THE POSITION OF OTHER SPORTS?

In November, the International Olympic Committee issued a 'framework' on the issue, leaving eligibility decisions up to individual sports bodies, but adding that "until evidence determines otherwise, athletes should not be deemed to have an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage due to their sex variations, physical appearance and/or transgender status".

Last year, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics in a different gender category than assigned at birth.

Many sports bodies have allowed transgender women to compete in women's events if they have lowered their testosterone levels to a certain point.

Last week, the International Cycling Union (UCI) tightened its rules by increasing the transition period for lower testosterone from 12 months to two years and halving the maximum level to 2.5 nmol/L.

The FINA ruling could increase pressure for similar moves inside other sports.

CAN THE DECISION BE CHALLENGED?

The normal route for challenging the rulings of international sports bodies is through the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. Other sports will be watching any legal moves with keen interest.

Explainer-Why swimming's transgender ruling is important to the sports world
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Russell Yelton
Russell Yelton Jun 19, 2022 8:02PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
So, a male athlete cannot win a sport in their ****group decides to change the ****to become a woman in order to compete in a sport where they are physically stronger than women due to genetics. I agree with the decision of the panel.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email