Sport

Trans women face harsher rules to compete in triathlon after sports bosses vote for new policy

Lily Wakefield August 4, 2022
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Athetes dive during the mixed relay Triathlon competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

Athetes dive during the mixed relay Triathlon competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (AFP via Getty/ Charly TRIBALLEAU)

World Triathlon, the sport’s international governing body, will continue to allow trans women to compete, albeit under stricter rules.

In allowing trans women to compete, World Triathlon has broken away from other governing bodies like elite swimming’s FINA, which effectively banned trans women from competing earlier this year.

The new policy, to be introduced last month, only applies to international competition.

It increases the time that testosterone must be lowered from one year to two, and also increases the time athletes must wait after competing in the sport’s male category from one year to four.

The policy, approved in a vote by World Triathlon’s executive board on Wednesday (3 August), reads: “To compete in the female category in an elite or age-group triathlon competition, a transgender athlete must demonstrate that the concentration of testosterone in the athlete’s serum has been less than 2.5 nmol/L continuously for a period of at least 24 months.

“Also, at least 48 months must have elapsed since the transgender athlete has competed as a male in any sporting competition.”

World Triathlon president and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Marisol Casado said in a statement: “We have been studying this matter for over a year, we have listened to the voices of all World Triathlon stakeholders, and I can only thank all the Committees and Commissions for the detailed work carried out by them to inform this policy.

“We are a small International Federation, but one that has always had inclusion and gender balance in our DNA. The policy that we have just approved shows that we are prioritising the fairness principle but showing inclusiveness.”

Casado added that World Triathlon was “open to reviewing and discussing [the policy] as much as necessary over time, as this subject is still evolving and we need to be flexible”.

However, domestic competitions are allowed to develop their own rules, with British Triathlon, the governing body for the sport in Britain, taking a far more trans exclusionary stance.

In its own policy, which comes into effect in January, British Triathlon declared: “Only people who are the female sex at birth will be eligible to compete in the female category.” 

Any trans women or non-binary people who were assigned female at birth and are over the age of 12 will have to compete in a “open category”.

More: LGBT athletes, trans athletes

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