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NCAA changes transgender athlete participation policy amid calls for re-evaluation

The NCAA has changed its policy regarding transgender athletes, it announced Wednesday.

The new approach to allowing transgender athletes will follow a sport-by-sport model similarly adopted by US and international Olympic committees, Sports Illustrated reported. the NCAA said if there was no international federation policy, then “previously established IOC policy criteria would be followed”.

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“We are steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and in promoting equity in college sports,” Georgetown University president and NCAA board chairman John DeGioia said Wednesday. in a press release announcing the change.

The new policy takes effect immediately.

NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis on March 12, 2020.
(Associated Press)

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The Board of Governors voted in favor of the new policy because it “preserves opportunities for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete,” according to the report.

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and varsity athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia added.

The national governing body for each sport will be responsible for determining the participation of transgender athletes. If a sport does not have a national governing body, the policy of the international federation will be enacted, Sports Illustrated reported.

Lia Thomas swims for Penn.

Lia Thomas is swimming for Penn.
(Penn Athletics)

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement saying the new policy brings collegiate sports closer to Olympic standards.

“About 80% of US Olympians are current or former college athletes,” Emmert said. “This policy alignment provides consistency and further strengthens the relationship between college sports and the US Olympics.”

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NCAA rules moved into the national spotlight due to the emergence of Penn’s Lia Thomas. She began breaking Ivy League records with national records in her sights. She was on the men’s team for her first three years, but started on the Quakers women’s team this season after her transition.

Its success this year has drawn criticism for allowing transgender women to compete with biological women. Women’s sports advocates and Penn parents recently spoke out against the NCAA and its rules on the participation of transgender female student-athletes.

The new NCAA policy means swimming athletes will be governed by the policies of USA Swimming, which follow the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC policy updated its transgender participation policy in November 2021 by refraining from focusing on testosterone levels to determine eligibility, according to The Washington Post. The IOC has urged the governing bodies of each individual sport to create the rules while offering assistance.

“Every athlete has the right to participate in sport without discrimination and in a manner that respects their health, safety and dignity,” the updated rules state. “At the same time, the credibility of competitive sport – and in particular high-level sporting competition – depends on a level playing field where no athlete has an unfair or disproportionate advantage over the others.”

Richard Budgett, the IOC’s medical and scientific director, said at the time that it was important to look at broader terms rather than just testosterone levels.

“It’s important that we expand the evidence base. There’s some interesting research that needs to come to fruition, and that will give us a lot more insight into performance, which is the question that’s really key in determining eligibility,” Budgett said.

According to swim swam, an NCAA spokesperson said the “previously established IOC policy criteria” referred to the November 2021 guidance.

The rules previously stated that trans female athletes had to demonstrate serum testosterone levels “below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months”.

The advice was apparently changed after Laurel Hubbard’s historic appearance at the Olympics.

Thomas finished about two seconds ahead of his opponents with a time of 1:48.73 in the 200 freestyle. She missed setting an NCAA record held by Olympian Missy Franklin, who finished the event in 1:39.10 in 2015. Thomas wasn’t as dominant as she was at the Zippy Invitational in Akron last month.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers swims in the 500-yard freestyle event during a triple meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers swims in the 500-yard freestyle event during a triple meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

She faced a real challenge in the 100 freestyle from Yale’s Iszac Henig, who is making the transition from female to male. Henig clocked 49.57 seconds and Thomas finished behind him with a time of 52.84 seconds.

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Henig, who is from California and has been competing for Yale since 2018, stunned the race’s limited spectators.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags : press release
Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.