The Day

Track bans transgende­r athletes, tightens rules for Semenya


Track and field banned transgende­r athletes from internatio­nal competitio­n Thursday, while adopting new regulation­s that could keep Caster Semenya and other athletes with difference­s in sex developmen­t from competing.

In a pair of decisions expected to stoke outrage, the World Athletics Council adopted the same rules as swimming did last year in deciding to bar athletes who have transition­ed from male to female and have gone through male puberty. No such athletes currently compete at the highest elite levels of track.

Another set of updates, for athletes with difference­s in sex developmen­t (DSD), could impact up to 13 current high-level runners, WA President Sebastian Coe said. They include Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, who has been barred from that event since 2019.

Semenya and others had been able to compete without restrictio­ns in events outside the range of 400 meters through one mile but now will have to undergo hormone-suppressin­g treatment for six months before competing to be eligible.

Coe conceded there are no easy answers on this topic, which has turned into a societal lightning rod involving advocates who want people assigned female at birth to be able to compete on even footing and others who don’t want to discrimina­te against transgende­r and DSD athletes.

“All the decisions we’ve taken have their challenges,” Coe said. “If that’s the case, then we will do what we have done in the past, which is vigorously defend our position. And the overarchin­g principle for me is we will always do what we think is in the best interest of our sport.”

Athletes with sex developmen­t difference­s, such as Semenya and Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia, are not transgende­r, although the two issues share similariti­es when it comes to sports.

Such athletes were legally identified as female at birth but have a medical condition that leads to some male traits, including high levels of testostero­ne that World Athletics argues gives them the same kind of unfair advantage as transgende­r athletes.

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