In an effort to help sports write eligibility rules for trans athletes, the IOC issued an advisory distracting attention from individual testosterone levels and calling for evidence to prove there was a performance benefit. .
No athlete should be excluded from competition on the basis of an “unverified competitive advantage, alleged or perceived to be unfair due to their sexual variations, physical appearance and / or transgender status,” said the International Olympic Committee.
The six-page document follows years of consultation with medical and human rights experts and, since 2019, directly affected athletes to help draft guidelines for equity and inclusion.
It is released after the Tokyo Olympics where the first openly transgender athlete, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, competed in the games and defended 800m champion Caster Semenya was among track athletes with intersex conditions and naturally high levels. of testosterone excluded from their events.
The new directive updates a 2015 revision that set a limit on the levels of testosterone allowed by athletes leading to treatments and procedures now described as “medically unnecessary”. “The eligibility criteria have at times resulted in serious harm,” the IOC admitted in a briefing on the advice which also warns against “invasive medical examinations”. Preventing harm is one of the 10 principles that will guide future decision making by sport officials. Others include non-discrimination, fairness, evidence-based decisions and the protection of athlete privacy.
The IOC document is not legally binding but clearly spells out what it now expects from the governing bodies responsible for regulating their own sports.
Some athletes are still expected to be ineligible in certain sports, with safety seen as a specific issue for combat and contact sports.
“Athletes should be allowed to compete, but unfair benefits need to be regulated,” said the IOC, which will help fund research into the elite performance of transgender and intersex athletes.
A target for next March, a few weeks after the close of the Beijing Winter Games, has been set to launch an online workshop program with sports organizations and athlete representatives.
“We have not found a solution to this big question,” said IOC spokesperson Christian Klaue. “It is clear that this is a subject that will be with us for a long time.”
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