Transgender women have been barred from competing in international athletics events in the female category.
World Athletics took the decision today in order to “prioritize fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion.”
The governing body’s president, Seb Coe, also stated that competitors from Russia and Belarus would continue to be barred from competing, including the Olympics, due to the Ukraine conflict.
This puts World Athletics at odds with the International Olympic Committee, which is looking into a means for Russians and Belarusians to compete as “neutrals” in Paris in 2024.
On the new transgender participation rules, Lord Coe said at a press conference in Monaco: ‘The World Athletics council has taken the decisive action to protect the female category in our sport.
‘The council has agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female world ranking competitions from March 31 this year.
‘The decision that the council made is a primarily principle-based decision and that is the overarching need to protect the female category. This is what our sport is here to do.’
Previously, transsexual women may compete in the female category if their testosterone levels were less than five nanomoles per litre over a year.
World Athletics indicated in January that they wished to tighten their policy, but that their “preferred alternative” was just to lower testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L and extend the transition time to two years.
This sparked outrage among female athletes and women’s rights activists, who demanded a total ban on transgender athletes competing against other women.
They got their wish yesterday, thanks to a decision of World Athletics council members, despite the governing body conceding there was ‘little support’ for their previous stance during a consultation session.
Coe said: ‘The majority of those consulted stated that transgender athletes should not be competing in the female category. Many believe there is insufficient evidence that transwomen do not retain advantage over biological women.
‘Where the science is insufficient to justify maintaining testosterone suppression for transgender athletes, the council agreed it must be guided by our overarching principle, which is to protect the female category.’
Asked if he expected a legal challenge, Coe said: ‘It’s possible. If that is the case, then we will do what we have done in the past which is vigorously defend our position. We will always do what we think is in the best interest of our sport.’
The decision by World Athletics follows that of swimming’s world governing body, FINA, who announced a ban on transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s races last summer.