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Thu, June 13, 2024

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas loses case to overturn World Aquatics ban

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas loses case to overturn World Aquatics ban

Lia Thomas, the US swimmer who gained international recognition as the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA college title in March 2022, has been unsuccessful in her legal challenge against World Aquatics at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This ruling dashes her hopes of participating in the upcoming Paris Olympics next month.

Additionally, the 25-year-old remains ineligible to compete in the female category after her challenge to overturn rules implemented by swimming's governing body in the summer of 2022 was unsuccessful. These rules exclude individuals who have undergone "any part of male puberty" from competing in the female category.

The world swim body argued that Thomas was not a member of its member federation USA Swimming when the legal case was started. She also had not competed in female events “for the purpose of qualification or selection” for World Aquatics competitions, such as the Olympics or world championships.

“The panel concludes that she lacks standing to challenge the policy and the operational requirements in the framework of the present proceeding,” the court said in its ruling.

The judges said USA Swimming had no authority “to modify such scope of application” of the world governing body’s rules.

In January, the ruling said, USA Swimming granted her request for “self-identity verification” as part of its policy on athlete inclusion.

World Aquatics said it welcomed the decision in a case “we believe is a major step forward in our efforts to protect women’s sport.”

“The decision is deeply disappointing,” said Thomas in a statement provided by her legal team. “Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities. The  decision should be seen as a call to action to all trans women athletes to continue to fight for our dignity and human rights.”

Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director at Athlete Ally said “By dismissing Lia Thomas’ legal challenge against World Aquatics, the court has denied her fundamental right to access an effective remedy for acts that violate her human rights. This is a sad day for sports and for anyone who believes that trans athletes should have the opportunity for their experiences of discrimination to be heard and adjudicated like everyone else.”

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