The world governing body for cycling, the International Cycling Union (UCI), has announced a ban on female transgender athletes who transitioned after male puberty from participating in women's events. The decision follows the recent victory of American cyclist Austin Killips, who became the first openly transgender woman to win an official cycling event earlier this year.
In a statement released on Friday, the UCI stated that the new ban would take effect from Monday and would be applicable across all categories and disciplines on the UCI International Calendar. The federation justified this move by stating that it aimed to ensure equal opportunities within the sport.
Austin Killips' historic win in the fifth stage of the Tour of the Gila, one of the prominent stage races in the United States, drew mixed reactions from the cycling community. Despite adhering to the UCI's existing policy, which requires transgender athletes to maintain serum testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per liter or lower for at least two years before competing in women's events, some fans and former racers expressed discontent.
UCI Highlights Scientific Limitations
The UCI explained its decision by citing the limitations of current scientific knowledge. The federation acknowledged that the available evidence does not confirm that two years of gender-affirming hormone therapy, with a target plasma testosterone concentration of 2.5 nmol/L, can entirely negate the advantages of testosterone acquired during male puberty.
Additionally, the UCI pointed out the challenges in drawing definitive conclusions about the effects of gender-confirming hormone therapy. It also raised the possibility that biomechanical factors, such as bone structure and arrangement in the limbs, could potentially provide a lasting advantage for female transgender athletes.
While implementing the ban, UCI President David Lappartient emphasized that the sport of cycling remains open to everyone, including transgender individuals. Lappartient encouraged their participation in the sport, stating that cycling is inclusive for all, whether as a competitive activity, recreational pursuit, or mode of transportation.
The decision by the UCI to prohibit transgender women who transitioned after male puberty from women's events in cycling reflects an ongoing debate about fair competition and inclusivity in sports. As the understanding of the complexities surrounding transgender participation continues to evolve, it is likely that further discussions and adjustments to policies will be necessary to strike the right balance between ensuring equal opportunities and maintaining the integrity of competition.