With trans women banned from athletics, Semenya’s career has another hurdle

  • World Athletics has tightened the rules governing the participation of transgender women in competitions.
  • Regardless of testosterone levels, the President of World Athletics Sebastian Coe says they won’t be able to compete in the athletics events.
  • This ruling will be effective from March 31, 2023.

Transgender women will not be able to compete in women’s athletics events regardless of their testosterone levels, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said on Thursday, citing fairness over inclusion.

Coe said that as of March 31, any transgender athlete past male puberty would not be allowed to compete in the women’s world qualifying competitions.

Speaking after a meeting of the World Athletics Federation’s decision-making body, Coe said World Athletics had consulted with stakeholders including 40 national federations, the International Olympic Committee and trans groups on the issue of transgender athletes.

The new ruling puts another hurdle in front of South Africa’s double 800m gold medalist Caster Semenya and her career.

Semenya, now 32, won gold at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, and has been at the forefront of debate and legislation surrounding intersex athletes competing at the elite level.

Semenya has been embroiled in a legal battle since 2019 over a ruling that she is taking medication to suppress her testosterone levels in order to compete in the 400m to 1500m, and this latest move by World Athletics makes that battle even more difficult.

“The majority of respondents stated that transgender athletes should not compete in the female category,” said Coe.

“Many feel that there is insufficient evidence that trans women do not maintain an advantage over biological women and want more evidence that their physical advantages have improved before they are willing to consider a possibility of entering the female category.”

He added: “The verdict we gave… I think it was in the best interest of our sport.

He said a task force headed by a transgender person would be set up to further monitor scientific developments.

“We don’t say ‘no’ forever,” Coe said.

“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we believe that fairness to female athletes must be maintained above all other considerations.

“We will be guided in this by the science of physical performance and the male advantage, which will inevitably develop in the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will revise our position, but we believe that the integrity of the female category in athletics is crucial. .”

In a statement, World Athletics said it had revealed “little support within sport” for an option presented to stakeholders, which required transgender athletes to maintain testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter of blood). 24 months to be eligible to compete internationally in the women’s category.

“There are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics and, as a result, there is no concrete evidence from athletics about the impact these athletes would have on the fairness of competition for women in athletics.

“In these circumstances, the Board decided to prioritize the fairness and integrity of the women’s competition before entering it.”

World Athletics also changed the regulations that include athletes classified as DSD, which means they have “differences in sexual development”.

According to the new regulations, in order to compete in the female category, DSD athletes will have to reduce their blood testosterone below 2.5 nanomoles per liter, below the current level of five, and stay below this threshold for two years. than one, as is the case now.

World Athletics also removed the principle of limited events for DSD athletes, meaning that the regulations now cover all events, rather than the previously monitored ones from 400m to one mile.


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