Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, announced on Thursday that transgender women will no longer be permitted to compete in female track and field events, regardless of their testosterone levels. Coe cited fairness over inclusion.
No transgender athlete who has experienced male puberty will be allowed to compete in female world ranking competitions starting on March 31, according to Coe.
During a meeting of the executive committee of the world track and field federation, Coe declared that World Athletics has spoken with stakeholders over the subject of transgender athletes, including 40 national federations, the International Olympic Committee, and trans groups.
According to the vast majority of persons surveyed, transgender athletes shouldn’t compete in the female division, he added.
Many people think there isn’t enough proof that trans women don’t still have an advantage over biological women, and they want further proof that any physical advantages have been reduced before they’ll even entertain the possibility of including trans people in the category of women.
The decision we made, he continued, “was, in my opinion, in the greatest interests of our sport.”
A working group led by a transgender person, he said, would be established to keep an eye on scientific advancements.
Coe declared, “We’re not going to keep saying no.
“Decisions are never easy when competing demands and rights of various groups must be balanced, but we continue to hold the belief that maintaining fairness for female athletes must come first.
“The research around physical performance and the masculine advantage, which will unavoidably expand over the coming years, will serve as our guidance in this. We will reevaluate our stance in light of new information, but we are adamant that the integrity of the female athletic division comes first.
In a statement, World Athletics said it became apparent that there “little support within the sport” for an option that was presented to stakeholders, which required transgender athletes to maintain their testosterone levels below 2.5nmol/L (nanomoles per litre of blood) for 24 months to be eligible to compete internationally in the female category.
“There are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics and consequently no athletics-specific evidence of the impact these athletes would have on the fairness of female competition in athletics.
“In these circumstances, the Council decided to prioritise fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion.”
World Athletics’ ruling follows that of FINA, swimming’s world governing body, which has stopped transgender swimmers who had gone through male puberty from competing in women’s elite races.
World Rugby, in 2020, was the first international sports federation to rule that transgender male-to-females could not compete at the elite and international level of the women’s game.
World Athletics also amended regulations covering athletes classified as DSD, in other words having “differences of sexual development.”
The most high-profile DSD athlete is double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya of South Africa.
Under the new regulations, in order to compete in the female category, DSD athletes will have to reduce their amount of blood testosterone to below 2.5 nanomoles per litre, down from the current level of five, and remain below this threshold for two years, rather than just one, as is the case now.
The average level of testosterone in women is between 0.5 and 2.4 nmol/l.
World Athletics also removed the principle of restricted events for DSD athletes, meaning regulations now cover all events rather than the previously monitored ones, which were from 400m to one mile.