The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has unveiled new competition criteria for intersex and transgender athletes set to come into play after the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
The sport’s governing body will move away from its focus on individual testosterone levels to determine eligibility and will instead pivot towards determining whether trans athletes possess a genuine competitive advantage.
It’s understood the new guidelines are in place to drive inclusion regardless of gender identity.
“Every athlete has the right to practice sport without discrimination and in a way that respects their health, safety and dignity,” the new policy says.
“At the same time the credibility of competitive sport – and particularly high-level sporting competitions – relies on a level playing field where no athlete has an unfair or disproportionate advantage over the rest.”
Under the old legislations from 2015, trans and intersex athletes had to register a testosterone level below the required threshold in order to compete.
And by all accounts, the gender testing was pretty rigorous with the IOC even admitting the “invasive physical examinations” were “disrespectful” and “potentially harmful”.
Now, though, the new directives place an emphasis on the individual sporting codes to devise their own rules around eligibility with testosterone assessments taken out of the equation altogether.
“The IOC seeks to promote a safe and welcoming environment for everyone involved in elite-level competition,” the governing body says.
“It must be within the remit of each sport and its governing body to determine how an athlete may be at a disproportionate advantage compared with their peers.
The IOC’s backflip has been met with a mixed reception from the general public.
Some have praised the sporting leader for increasing its emphasis on inclusivity, while others have questioned how it will be governed.
Lawyer Katherine Deves who founded the Save Women’s Sports Australasia group labelled the move “disgraceful”.
“Three years of consulting, but it’s too hard and it’s evolving and it’s a process so let’s punt it to the IFs,” Deves tweeted.
“When they excluded us a century ago, women founded their own Olympics – including female only spectators – we need to do that again. IOC has betrayed us all, and smashed the dreams of young girls everywhere.
“What a muddle the IOC has gotten itself into! So passing buck to IFs.”