In a move aimed at preserving fairness in the sport, World Athletics has announced a ban on transgender female athletes from competing in female ranking events. This decision was made by the governing body’s president, Lord Coe, who stated that no female transgender athlete who had gone through male puberty would be permitted to compete in female world ranking competitions from March 31.
Working Group for Transgender Eligibility Guidelines
World Athletics will set up a working group to conduct further research into the transgender eligibility guidelines. The group will consult with transgender athletes, review and commission research, and put forward recommendations to the Council. Lord Coe emphasized that the decision to ban transgender female athletes from competing in female ranking events was not a permanent one.
Previous Regulations for Transgender Female Athletes
Under previous rules, World Athletics required transgender female athletes to reduce their blood testosterone level to a maximum of 5nmol/L and stay under this threshold continuously for 12 months before competition. However, the new decision bans transgender female athletes who have gone through male puberty from competing in female world ranking events.
Reduced Blood Testosterone Level for Athletes with Differences in Sex Development
The World Athletics Council also voted to reduce the amount of blood testosterone permitted for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD). These athletes will be required to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre, down from five, and must remain under this threshold for two years to compete internationally in the female category in any track and field event. Previously, DSD athletes were only restricted in events ranging from 400m to a mile.
Interim Provisions for DSD Athletes
Interim provisions will be introduced for DSD athletes already competing in previously unrestricted events. These athletes will be required to suppress their testosterone levels below 2.5nmol/L for a minimum of six months before they are allowed to compete again.
Preserving Fairness in Athletics
Lord Coe explained that the decision was guided by the overarching principle of protecting the female category in athletics. While decisions involving conflicting needs and rights between different groups are always difficult, World Athletics believes that fairness for female athletes must come first. Lord Coe also noted that there are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in the sport.
The World Athletics Council has agreed to set up a working group for 12 months to further consider the issue of transgender inclusion. The group will be led by an independent chair and will include up to three council members, two athletes from the Athletes’ Commission, a transgender athlete, three representatives of World Athletics’ member federations, and representatives of the World Athletics health and science department. As more evidence becomes available, World Athletics will review its position on this issue. However, the organization believes that the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.