World Athletics chairman Sebastian Coe has said the world swimming governing body is acting in its “best interests” by launching measures that will see transgender women banned from competing against elite female competitors.
FINA [Federation Internationale de Natation] announced on Sunday that it would ban all transgender women who have experienced any stage of male puberty from competing in women’s events.
It marked a distinct change in the politics of a major sport and was welcomed by long-time campaigners including former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies.
There have been calls for other sports to follow swimming’s lead and move away from eligibility policies based on testosterone limits; however, LGBT advocacy groups strongly criticized FINA’s decision.
US group Athlete Ally said FINA’s restrictions were “discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and inconsistent with the IOC 2021 [International Olympic Committee] principles”.
The swimming authority said the regulations were passed by a 71.5% majority after FINA panel members heard from an athlete group, a scientific and medical group and a legal group and defense of human rights.
Athletics has not yet committed to a similar policy, but Coe’s indication of backing FINA’s position indicates that this is a possibility in the future.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Coe said: “We are seeing an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport.
“It is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations accordingly. We will follow the 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 regulations with our board later this year.”