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UCI tightens testosterone rules for transgender athletes

Permitted limits allowed from 1 March will be half those that applied previously

The UCI has tightened testosterone rules for transgender athletes who have transitioned from male to female to compete in women’s events, with the governing body halving the current limits.

While stricter regulations will now apply, the governing body stopped short of imposing a total ban on transgender cyclists competing as women which some campaigners, including pressure groups Fair Play for Women and Save Women’s Sport had urged.

Pressure on the UCI to act intensified after Canada’s Rachel McKinnon, who was born male, retained her 35-39 age group women’s 200 metre sprint title at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester in October last year.

> Transgender debate continues as Dr Rachel McKinnon retains world title

Announcing the new regulations, which were agreed by its management committee when it met last month at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland, the UCI said: “The new regulations, which will come into effect on 1 March 2020, are designed to encourage transgender athletes to compete in the category corresponding to their new gender, while guaranteeing a level playing field for all athletes in the competitions in question.”

Current rules are those adopted at a consensus meeting arranged by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2015, but which were reviewed, particularly for male-to-female athletes, at a meeting in Lausanne last October, attended by the UCI, other governing bodies, plus experts on the subject and representatives of transgender and cisgender athletes.

One aspect of the new consensus is that is that “if a federation decides to use testosterone as an indicator, the transgender athlete will only be eligible to compete in the women category if their serum testosterone level is below 5 nmol/L” – half the current level.

Explaining the eligibility criteria, the UCI said:

All transgender athletes wishing to compete in the category corresponding to their new gender must make their request to the medical manager appointed by the UCI, at least six weeks before the date of the first competition.

The athlete’s file will be passed on to a commission of three international experts independent of the UCI. The commission’s members will assess the athlete’s eligibility to compete in the new gender category and will inform the UCI’s medical officer of their conclusions.   

The athlete must prove that their serum testosterone level has been below 5 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to the eligibility date.  

Once deemed eligible, the athlete must agree to keep their serum testosterone level below 5 nmol/L for the entire time they compete in the Women category.

The athlete must undergo serum testosterone tests conducted using a benchmark method (mass spectrometry).

After an athlete has had their eligibility confirmed , “the UCI’s medical manager will be responsible for ensuring the athlete complies with the eligibility regulations throughout their sporting career.

“Should they fail to do so, the medical manager may choose to suspend their eligibility to compete until such time as the athlete proves that they are able to comply with the criteria again.”

The UCI added: “In the event of any breach of the regulations, a penalty system shall come into effect. Penalties shall range from a mere reprimand and warning to disqualification and a fine.”

UCI President David Lappartient said: “The adoption of new directives in the UCI Regulations will provide the cycling community as a whole with a clearly defined regulatory framework that applies to everyone.

“Thanks to this consensus, achieved by a working group representing our sport’s various stakeholders, our federation has given itself the wherewithal to take into consideration – and in reflection of developments in our society – the desire of transgender athletes to compete, while guaranteeing a level playing field for all competitors.

“This is an important step in the inclusion of transgender athletes in elite sport,” he added.

While the rules may have been tightened, nothing short of an outright ban is likely to satisfy critics, with the issue transcending sport as it ties in with wider attitudes in society regarding transgender people.

In December, McKinnon revealed that she had seen a huge increase in hate mail and had even received death threats, since Donald Trump Junior, in the wake of her world title defence, said that transgender athletes would "destroy women's sports."

> Transgender track cyclist Rachel McKinnon blames Donald Trump Junior for increase in hate mail

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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peted76 | 4 years ago

I find it uncomfortable for these discussions to take place without considering that even within so-called 'normal people' in sport, taking out the particular XY chromosome argument mix, we're simply not all the same. Greg LeMonde had an unfair advantage because his VO2max was one of the highest ever measured, 92.5, a third better than most of the peloton.. or maybe the governing bodies should reconsider hematocrit levels in athletes, why is it fair if I have a low hematocrit level compared to another, or have grown up with higher testosterone levels then the next person, take it further, racially perhaps, why shouldn't black swimmers have their own swimming league, they literally have denser bones. I'm starting to sound like a cartoon which was not my point, my point being that very little in sport is actually fair when you start to look at it, we've just gotten used to a certain acceptance of certain things, an invisible (unfair) line has been drawn.

I'd like an answer which suits everyone but I can't see it ever happening, hardline stances, however, on this topic don't help anyone apart from the Daily Heil get new readers.

roadmanshaq replied to peted76 | 4 years ago

Actually being 'hardline' on trans people's right to participate in sport in the face of bigoted hate is a pretty good thing to do. 'Good people on both sides!' is not a good look, when transphobic violence is rife, backed up by notions that 'they're not normal'.

peted76 | 4 years ago

Come on.. now, this has been done to death, all sensible open minded people should know by now that there easy answer or right or wrong answer here.

Which is something that the experts do agree on.

roadmanshaq | 4 years ago
1 like

Trans women are women.

Luca Patrono replied to roadmanshaq | 4 years ago

If your sex is male, you are not a woman.

roadmanshaq replied to Luca Patrono | 4 years ago
1 like

Just as well trans women are women in sex then.

Trans women are women.

Xena | 4 years ago

What about all those years growing up as a male when you have had huge benefits from having test in your body . Never mind the other physical advantage you gain from just being a male .  It's about time woman take a stand and refuse to compete against men claiming to be women . Mckinnion is just a fucking cheat  simple as that , trying to get away with it in this woke era , I don't know how he lives with himself . Him. He a man . Sports a complete joke anyway . So much money involved right now who knows what your watching , may has well watch some cgi infested movie , both shit.
Before anyone try's to put me in a box. Trump and all politicians are a bunch of self serving maniacs . The power behind country's is those that hold the money  and control everything , we have seen women's sport turned into a fiasco. It's up to women to stop this  women are losing out the sporting bodies will do fuck all. Woman are losing Scholarships  to men in the US . It's  ridiculous and a man ( sex change ) MMA fighter caves in a women's skull and all thes so called woke women and men etc etc are fine with it ,,fuck me  .caves in her skull .


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