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British Triathlon introduces 'Open Category' for transgender athletes

British Triathlon introduces 'Open Category' for transgender athletes
© Reuters
British Triathlon announces the introduction of a new 'Open Category' for male, transgender and non-binary athletes, which will come into effect from January.

British Triathlon has announced the creation of a new 'Open Category' for male, transgender and non-binary athletes following a review of the governing body's Transgender Policy.

The running, swimming and cycling event has therefore become the first sport in Britain to establish an open category, which will come into effect from January 1, 2023.

The move follows a previous ruling from FINA - swimming's world governing body - in which transgender athletes were also stopped from competing in women's races after controversy surrounding the successes of Lia Thomas.

Cycling's world governing body, the UCI, has not fully banned transgender athletes from entering women's events, but male-to-female riders must now produce less than 2.5 nanomoles of testosterone per litre for 24 months compared to less than five nanomoles for 12 months previously.

Following a survey of more than 3,000 members, British Triathlon has stated that 80% of respondents were in favour of the new policy, which will be used for all competitive events with prizes, times and rankings at stake.

"Following the publication of the Sports Councils Equality Group (SCEG) Guidance for Domestic Competition in September 2021 and the subsequent announcement by the IOC in November 2021, British Triathlon has reviewed its Transgender Policy following a period of consultation to ensure that it reflects the needs of our sport, protects fairness in competition and serves our desire to make triathlon truly inclusive," a statement read.

"Our policy outlines that Triathlon is a sport for everyone and that transphobic behaviour will not be tolerated. It confirms that Triathlon is a gender-affected sport and so for competitive events (those races that have prizes, times, and/or rankings) for athletes over the age of 12, there will be two categories; a Female Category, (for those who are the female sex at birth), and an Open Category, (for all individuals including male, transgender and those non-binary who were male sex at birth.

"We started this process at the end of 2021 and went through a period of independent consultation earlier this year to explore options for categorisation into triathlon competition in Great Britain.

"This ensured that along with the latest research, we heard from our community, key groups and individuals about their views and experiences.

"We'll now take time to develop guidance for event organisers, clubs, officials and coaches, to share this autumn, before the policy comes into effect from 1 January 2023. This guidance will support the implementation of this policy and serve to ensure that our sport continues to develop in being welcoming, supportive and inclusive for everyone.

"British Triathlon wants to make clear, that it does not tolerate transphobic behaviour, harassment, bullying or hate speech of any kind. Anyone commenting on our policy, should do so with empathy and consideration for all of those who have been involved and who may still have questions and concerns about how the policy impacts them."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries have both expressed their beliefs that transgender athletes should not be permitted to compete in women's events, with the latter telling heads of UK sporting governing bodies: "Asking women and teenage girls to compete against someone who was biologically born a male is inherently unfair."

While British Triathlon's new policy comes after similar rulings from FINA and the UCI, neither British Swimming nor British Cycling have followed suit.

However, the International Rugby League (IRL) has prevented transgender players from participating in women's internationals, and Lord Sebastian Coe of World Athletics welcomed FINA's announcement last month and hinted that his sport could adopt a similar policy.

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