Athletics may follow swimming in banning transgender women

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has hinted the sport could follow swimming in banning transgender women from elite female competitions, insisting "fairness is non-negotiable".

Swimming's world governing body Fina Monday voted to stop trans athletes from competing in women's elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

The landmark decision set swimming apart from almost all other Olympic sports, with most using testosterone limits as a basis for inclusion.

But Lord Coe has now revealed that World Athletics is set to discuss adopting a new eligibility policy, and welcomed Fina's move.

"We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport," he told BBC Sport.

"This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this. We will follow the science.

"We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year."

Under Lord Coe, World Athletics has already introduced rules that cap testosterone levels at five nanomoles per litre (5nmol/L) for transgender athletes and for competitors with differences in sex development (DSD) in some women's running events.

And with the International Olympic Committee recently placing responsibility on individual federations to determine eligibility criteria of their own, other sports are now bringing in tougher policies.

Last week, cycling's world governing body the UCI lowered the permitted testosterone level from 5nmol/L to to 2.5nmol/L, and doubled the period of time before a transgender rider can compete to two years.

But Fina has now gone further after a report by a scientific panel said that going through male puberty meant trans women retained a "relative performance advantage over biological females", even after medication to reduce testosterone.

It is only the second Olympic governing body, after World Rugby in 2020, to introduce a ban on transgender competitors, but it now looks increasingly likely that track and field could follow suit.

Football's world governing body Fifa also said it was "currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders". But Fifa added it was "not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations".

"We've always tried to find a navigable way through. We haven't wanted to stigmatise," said Lord Coe, who was in Budapest as a guest of Fina as it made its decision at an extraordinary general congress at the weekend.


Photo file  Caption: World Athletics president Sebastian Coe