Lord Coe has claimed that the “integrity and future of women’s sport” is at stake after Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship.
Thomas swam for the University of Pennsylvania men’s team for three seasons before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019 and competing as a woman. This past weekend Thomas won the 500m freestyle but was met with boos from some fans during the podium ceremony and other swimmers have argued against her being allowed to compete.
Lord Coe was speaking at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Belgrade said “There is no question to me that testosterone is the key determinant in performance. Look at the nature of 12 or 13-year-old girls. I remember my daughters would regularly outrun male counterparts in their class but as soon as puberty kicks in that gap opens and it remains. Gender cannot trump biology. You can't be oblivious to public sentiment, of course not. But science is important. If I wasn't satisfied with the science that we have and the experts that we have used and the in-house teams that have been working on this for a long time, if I wasn't comfortable about that, this would be a very different landscape.”
Under Coe’s leadership World Athletics has adopted much stricter rules which ensure athletes with higher testosterone levels must keep these below a set amount for at least 12 months before being allowed to compete internationally. The most famous instance of this is Caster Semenya who is not allowed to compete at her favoured 800m without reducing her testosterone levels which are naturally increased due to her condition hyperandrogenism.
Sport Resolutions recently discussed the topic of Transgender Athlete Rights, the video for the session can be accessed here.