FINA votes to ban transgender swimmers from elite women’s competitions

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FINA President Husain Al-Musallam speaks during the opening ceremony of the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary. The international governing body of swimming announced a new policy on Sunday barring transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s competitions. File photo by Tamas Kovacs.EPA-EFE

June 19 (UPI) — Swimming’s international governing body, FINA, on Sunday announced a new policy barring transgender athletes from competing in elite women’s races.

The new guideline states that transgender swimmers must complete their transition by age 12 and maintain circulating testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol/L to compete in women’s competitions, the Washington Post reported.

FINA approved the guideline with 71% of the votes of the members of the 152 eligible national federations at a congress during the World Championships in Budapest.

In a statement, FINA said the directive will come into effect on Monday.

The decision would bar many transgender swimmers, including Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas, the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA Division I swimming title, from competing in FINA events. Thomas has expressed interest in attending the Paris 2024 Olympics.

FINA said it heard a report from “leading scientific, medical and legal experts” as well as athletes Cate Campbell and Summer Sanders.

“FINA’s approach in drafting this policy was comprehensive, science-based and inclusive, and more importantly, FINA’s approach emphasized competitive fairness,” FINA Director Brent Nowicki told the BBC.

The organization said it will also work to create an “open” category for swimmers whose gender identity is different from their gender within the next six months.

“FINA will always welcome every athlete,” said FINA President Husain Al-Musallam. “Creating an open category will mean everyone has the opportunity to compete at the elite level. This has not been done before, so FINA must lead the way. I want all athletes to feel involved in generating ideas during this process.”

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