The president of cycling’s governing body has held emergency talks with other international sports federations about creating tougher new rules for the participation of trans women in elite women’s sport “within months”.
In a notable intervention, the UCI president, David Lappartient, said cycling’s current rules, which allow trans women to compete against cis women if they reduce their testosterone to below 5 nmol/L for a period of 12 months, were “probably not enough” to ensure fair competition.
He also suggested that other sports including athletics and swimming were in a similar boat and that coordinated action might be needed.
“It is a very sensitive topic at the moment,” he said. “The question is, is there a memory from your body from what you were before? Do you have an advantage for this? Do we have a breach of fair competition?
“When you ask this question, it is not to challenge the fact that people want to transition. We fully respect that.
“But I can also really understand from ladies [who] say: ‘OK, we don’t accept this.’ At the moment, the union of women’s riders are completely against this and challenging the UCI. So we are in between.”
The participation of trans women in elite sport has become a topical issue with the US swimmer Lia Thomas becoming the first trans athlete to win a national college title a fortnight ago.
Lappartient, meanwhile, said that cycling had “one big case in Great Britain” in the form of trans woman cyclist Emily Bridges, who set a national junior 25-mile record as a man in 2018.
Bridges was hoping to compete in her first race as a woman at the British National Omnium Championships on Saturday but has since been barred by the UCI as she is still registered as a male competitor.
The Guardian also understands that Bridges will not be selected by the British team for the UCI Track Nations Cup, starting on 21 April, when it is announced on Friday.
Lappartient said: “I had some discussions this week with the Olympians associations, with some international federations. In cycling, in swimming, in athletics, the question of fair competition is really a question we must put on the table. Is it a right to take part when you do the transition to the highest level or do we have to see if this will affect the fairness of competition?”
“I believe that maybe the situation we have now, of the rules of five nanomoles per liter [to measure testosterone levels]is probably not enough.
“Clearly this is something we have to put on the agenda of the Association of Summer International Olympic Federation because we can’t solve this alone, we have to work together,” he told the BBC. “We can’t just close our eyes on what is happening and this is something we have to do within the next months.”
Earlier this week swimming’s governing body, Fina, proposed a new rule that will require trans women to reduce their testosterone for at least 36 months before competing in the women’s category – and put the burden of proof on the athlete to demonstrate they have no retained advantage . The proposal is likely to be voted on in June. Meanwhile World Triathlon said it was currently working on an update of its rules to ensure fair competition, which will be released later in April.
The president of World Triathlon’s medical committee, Dr Sergio Migliorini, told the Guardian: “We have a working group on this matter including members of the medical committee, sport dept, women’s committee, and executive board in order to update our rules during 2022 to have fair competition between transgender and cisgender.
“We hope that the International Olympic Committee framework will be improved, considering also the medical/scientific aspect of this matter, and with the cooperation of the IFs/IOC medical committee and the scientific experts in this matter.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism