Friday, September 30

British Triathlon creates ‘open’ category for transgender athletes to compete at all levels | Triathlon


Triathlon has become the first sport in the UK to ban transgender athletes from racing in the female category at elite and grassroots level after deciding that “fairness of competition is paramount”.

Under British Triathlon’s new policy, which kicks in on 1 January 2023, transgender athletes over the age of 12 will now have to compete in an “open category” for “all individuals including male, transgender and those non-binary who were male sex at birth”.

A second “female category” will apply only “for those who are the female sex at birth”. The policy will apply to any race that is timed or has prizes.

The policy will also apply at international level, with British Triathlon confirming that “only athletes who are the female sex at birth will be eligible to represent Great Britain, England, Scotland or Wales, in female competition”.

British Triathlon has pledged to keep the sport inclusive to everyone, but the governing body argued that the scientific evidence showing transgender athletes have retained advantages showed that it had to act to protect the female category.

“Athletes who were born male have an advantage over athletes who were born female and that their advantage is significant in swim, bike and run,” British Triathlon’s chief executive Andy Salmon said. “And we concluded that physiology advantages are retained after testosterone suppression.”

Salmon also pointed out that triathlon has long been a strong proponent of gender equity, with men and women racing for the same prizes on the same course. “Our sport was founded relatively late in the 1970s. And with gender equity at its core, this is something that we’re incredibly proud of and, indeed, we’re incredibly precious about,” he added. “And this is one of the reasons why fairness in our sport is so important to us.

“So where there is competitive activity, then fairness of competition is paramount – and it should apply to all levels of the sport.”

Until now most transgender policies for sport have focused on only elite competition, with the governing bodies of international swimming, cycling and rugby league all coming up with different plans for international sport in recent weeks.

However, Salmon said that for British Triathlon it was important that the same rules applied at all levels. “Doing a triathlon requires commitment,” he said. “So who are we as a governing body to say to somebody who isn’t particularly quick or talented, that when they compete in a triathlon, they don’t deserve to have fair competition?”

British Triathlon said it had taken its groundbreaking decision following a survey of over 3,000 members – 80% of whom favored a protected female category – along with discussions with elite, grassroots and transgender athletes and a review of the latest science.

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    In its policy document, British Triathlon says that science “illustrates the physiological, biological and subsequent sporting performance advantages that adult males enjoy over adult females – due to the effects of testosterone during male puberty – is unequivocal”.

    “In addition, the scientific community broadly agrees that the majority of the physiological/biological advantages brought about by male puberty are retained. [either wholly or partially] by transwomen post transition,” the document adds.

    British Triathlon said it had taken legal advice and was confident its new policy was “robust” and protected by the 2010 Equality Act. It also urged people to discuss the policy in a respectful manner.

    “British Triathlon wants to make clear that it does not tolerate transphobic behaviour, harassment, bullying or hate speech of any kind,” it said. “Anyone commenting on our policy, should do so with empathy and consideration.”


    www.theguardian.com

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