FIFA, IAAF review laws on transgender participation

World football’s governing body FIFA and World Athletics said on Monday that they are reviewing their transgender eligibility policies after swimming passed new rules that restrict transgender participation in women’s events.

Meanwhile, rugby league’s governing body has banned transgender athletes from competing in international matches while the organisation conducts further research into the “perceived risk” to other players.

The news comes after swimming’s world governing body FINA voted on Sunday to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions and create a working group to establish an “open” category for them in some events as part of its new policy.

The new policy states that male-to-female transgender swimmers (transgender women) are eligible to compete in women’s competitions only if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later.”

A spokesperson for FIFA told Reuters it was in a consultation process over a new policy.

“Due to the ongoing nature of the process, FIFA is not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations.”

Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, told the BBC that the organisation’s council would discuss their regulations at the end of the year.

FIFA said it was taking guidance from medical, legal, scientific, performance and human rights experts and also the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“Should FIFA be asked to verify the eligibility of a player before the new regulations will be in place, any such case will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, taking into account FIFA’s clear commitment to respect human rights,” the spokesperson said.

Last year, the IOC issued a “framework” on the issue, leaving eligibility decisions up to individual sports bodies, but adding that “until evidence determines otherwise, athletes should not be deemed to have an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage due to their sex variations, physical appearance and/or transgender status”.

World Athletics’ existing rules cap testosterone levels at five nanomoles per litre (5nmol/L) for transgender athletes and for competitors with differences in sex development (DSD) in some women’s running events. –ESPN

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