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Dr Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender women's champion in any sport, posted picture of British Olympic medallist to Twitter...

A Canadian cyclist who made headlines around the world last year after becoming the first transgender athlete to win a world title in any sport has hit back at comments made about her by Sharron Davies – by posting a picture to Twitter of the former Olympic swimmer and saying that saying that nowadays, people would be “calling her a man.”

Dr Rachel McKinnon, who won the 200 metres world title in the 35-44 women’s sprint category at the UCI Masters Track World Championships last October, was responding to comments made by Davies in recent days that transgender women “have a male sex advantage” when competing in women’s sport.

Today, she tweeted a photo of Davies and asked how the two-time Commonwealth swimming champion and winner of an Olympic silver medal at Moscow in 1980 might be perceived nowadays.

Davies had shared her thoughts on Twitter last week about transgender athletes born as men competing against women, after Martina Navratilova said it was tantamount to “cheating” – with the 18-time tennis grand slam singles winner later apologising for her comments after being accused of transphobia.

It’s clearly an emotive subject that polarises opinion on both sides, and in recent days Davies has repeatedly defended her position on Twitter, as well as in the mainstream media.

A number of replies to her posts on the social network have highlighted transgender athletes competing in women’s sport and the unfair advantage some people believe they have.

Meanwhile, other women’s sports stars have also shared their thoughts on the issue, such as Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe saying that she believes tougher rules are needed regarding transgender athletes.

A tweet from McKinnon last October after she won her UCI women’s Masters title sparked a heated online debate about whether it was fair for someone born as a man to compete in the event.

An assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, McKinnon defended her right to participate, pointing out that she did not qualify fastest in the event and that she finished fourth in the time trial.

She also highlighted that in order to compete, she was “forced to have an unhealthily endogenous testosterone value,” adding that she is “an internationally recognized expert on the science and ethics of transgender inclusion in sport.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.