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Football-FIFA and World Athletics revise rules for transgender people after changing swimming

Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – World football’s governing body FIFA and World Athletics said on Monday they were reviewing their transgender admittance policy after swimming adopted new rules restricting transgender participation in women’s competition.

Swimming’s global governing body FINA voted on Sunday to limit the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s competitions and set up a working group to establish an “open” category for them in some competitions as part of its new policy.

The new policy states that transgender swimmers (transgender women) are only eligible to compete in women’s competitions if “they can prove, to the full satisfaction of FINA, that they have not experienced any part of male puberty after Tanner stage 2 (puberty). maturation). ) or up to 12 years, whichever is later.”

A FIFA spokesman told Reuters that a consultation process is underway on the new policy.

“FIFA is currently reviewing its gender selection rules in consultation with interested experts,” the spokesman said.

“Due to the ongoing process, FIFA is unable to comment on the specifics of the proposed amendments to the existing rules,” the spokesman added.

Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, told the BBC that the organization’s board will discuss its rules at the end of the year.

Coe praised FINA for the decision, which has been criticized by transgender rights advocates.

“We see how an international federation asserts its primacy in setting the rules, regulations and policies that are in the interests of its sport,” he told the BBC.

“That’s the way it should be. We have always believed that biology is more important than gender, and we will continue to revise our rules accordingly. We will follow science.

“We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant of performance and have scheduled a discussion of our rules with our board later in the year,” he added.

FIFA said it was guided by the advice of medical, legal, scientific, productivity and human rights experts, as well as the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“If FIFA is asked to review a player’s eligibility before the new rules go into effect, any such case will be considered on a case-by-case basis, given FIFA’s clear commitment to human rights,” the statement said. the spokesman said.

Last year, the IOC released a “basic” on the matter, leaving the decision on eligibility up to individual sports organizations but adding that “until proven otherwise, athletes should not be considered to have an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage due to their gender differences. , physical appearance and/or transgender status.”

Current World Athletics regulations limit testosterone levels to five nanomoles per liter (5 nmol/L) for transgender athletes and for athletes with a developmental difference (DSD) in certain women’s cross-country events.

Coe said it was important to protect the integrity of women’s sports.

“When it comes to a fight, if it’s a decision between inclusion and fairness, we will always be on the side of fairness – that’s non-negotiable for me.

“We cannot allow a generation of young girls to think that they have no future in sports. Therefore, we have a responsibility … maintaining the primacy and integrity of the women’s competition is absolutely necessary, ”he added.

Last week, the International Cycling Union (UCI) tightened its rules for transgender participation, extending the transitional period for low testosterone to two years and lowering the maximum allowable testosterone level.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ken Ferris and Preeta Sarkar)

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