World Athletics will look again at its rules relating to transgender athletes after Sebastian Coe praised swimming for acting in its “best interests” by imposing ban.
Coe’s intervention came as a top medical official at FINA said the decision of swimming’s governing body to restrict transgender athletes in elite women’s swimming had provided a blueprint for other sports to follow in balancing fairness with inclusion. “We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport,” said Coe, president of World Athletics. “This is as it should be.
“We have always believed, and repeated constantly, that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this.”
FINA voted to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty. They received the backing of Olympic gold medallist Caitlyn Jenner, who tweeted: “What’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals from females. Period.”
Coe recognises what a delicate subject this is but vows to continue to “follow the science”. He added: “We have always said our regulations in this area are a living document, specific to our sport.
“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinator in performance and have scheduled a discussion on our DSD and Transgender regulations with our Council at the end of the year.”
David Gerrard, vice chairman of FINA’s Sports Medicine Committee, believes swimming’s stance is “the best outcome” for the sport and its athletes. “To my mind, FINA’s approach to this was very enlightened, it was very balanced, it was informed,” the former New Zealand Olympic swimmer told Reuters.
“It recognised the athlete’s voice, the scientific, objective evidence and the somewhat more subjective, human rights (and) legal issues which were argued very forcefully by the lawyers present. “I hope that that model is something that’s considered by other sports.”
Supporters of transgender inclusion say that not enough studies have been done on the impact of transition on physical performance.