Mar 23, 2023 - Sports

World Athletics bans trans women from female sports

World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe during a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this year. Photo: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

The World Athletics Council voted Thursday to ban athletes who are transgender women "or who have Differences of Sexual Development" from competing in elite track and field competitions.

The big picture: The new rule follows similar bans on transgender athletes competing in elite women's competitions, including swimming.

Of note: The decision could affect athletes including South African double Olympic 800 meters champion athlete Caster Semenya, who's believed to have been born with an intersexed condition that causes her body to produce testosterone at a higher rate than is typical women.

  • She and other athletes were previously allowed to compete without medication except in events ranging from 400m through one mile.

Details: "Interim provisions will be introduced for those relevant athletes who are already competing in what were the unrestricted events" before the new restrictions take effect on March 31, per a World Athletics statement.

  • "In regard to transgender athletes, the Council has agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition," the statement added.

What they're saying: "Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations," World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

  • "We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount."
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