Sport

Emily Bridges accuses cycling bosses of ‘moving goalposts’ with harsh new trans rules

Amelia Hansford June 17, 2022
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Emily Bridges

Emily Bridges received violent threats after Boris Johnson made comments about excluding trans athletes from sport. (ITV News)

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has been accused of a “last minute moving of the goalposts”  by Emily Bridges after it doubled down on its trans-exclusionary policy.

New regulations introduced by the world governing body dictate that trans women who want to compete must have testosterone levels below two-and-a-half nmol/L for two years prior to consideration.

Under previous rules, the requirement was five nmol/L for 12 months.

The rules were reviewed amid an anti-trans backlash surrounding cyclist Emily Bridges, who was blocked by the UCI from competing in British National Omnium Championships in April.

The cyclist began hormone therapy in 2021 but could now be sidelined until 2024, ITV reports.

Announcing the change on Thursday (16 June), the UCI said it had consulted research in “the latest scientific publications”.

“The latest scientific publications clearly demonstrate that the return of markers of endurance capacity to ‘female level’ occurs within six to eight months under low blood testosterone, while the awaited adaptations in muscle mass and muscle strength/power take much longer [two years minimum according to a recent study),” a statement said.

“Given the important role played by muscle strength and power in cycling performance, the UCI has decided to increase the transition period on low testosterone from 12 to 24 months.”

In a statement to ITV after the change was announced, Bridges’ team accused the UCI of a a “last minute moving of the goalposts”.

“We’d received no communication from the UCI on their plans and, specifically, how it impacts Em’s current application which has been part of the UCI process since March 2022,” the statement continued.

“Given that the UCI requested, on May 11, Em provide additional blood tests (specifically over an extended period of three months) and detailed personal information.

“We are now seeking clarity on why they asked for this information when they were planning on a policy change.”

Emily Bridges has spoken out against the abuse she has received, telling DIVA magazine in May that trans people have become a “punching bag”.

She said “wall-to-wall articles all the time” took their toll, to the point that she removed herself from social media for two weeks “because [she] knew it was going to be too intense”.

“There are studies going on for trans women in sport,” she said. “I’m doing one and the performance drop-off that I’ve seen is massive. I don’t have any advantage over my competitors, and I’ve got data to back that up.”

In a separate interview, Bridges said she had been sent “scary” threats after Boris Johnson argued trans women shouldn’t compete in women’s sports.

British Cycling had already suspended its trans inclusion policy entirely, pending a review.

More: british cycling, emily bridges, UCI

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