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FINA, the governing body for international swimming, has passed new guidelines for transgender swimmers that come into effect on Monday.
The “Gender Inclusion Policy” only allows swimmers who switched before the age of 12 to compete in women’s events. FINA members voted 71.5% in favor of the new policy.
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There was also a proposal for a new “open competition policy”. The organization said it is establishing “a new working group that will spend the next six months looking at the most effective ways to establish this new category.”
In the 24-page policy released on Sunday, FINA detailed how transgender men and women will be allowed to compete under the new rules.
According to FINA, transgender men are eligible to enter FINA competitions and set world records in the men’s category unless:
“For the disciplines of water polo and high diving, the athlete must submit to FINA a risk assumption form signed and dated by the athlete or, if the athlete is a minor, by his legal representative” or “All athletes undergoing treatment containing testosterone or other anabolic substances as part female-to-male sex-affirming hormone treatment are required to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for that treatment under the FINA Doping Control Rules.
Transgender women and athletes whose legal gender and/or gender identity is female may compete in FINA-sanctioned events if “they can demonstrate, to the convenient satisfaction of FINA, that they have not passed any part of male puberty above Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”
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The athlete must demonstrate that they have “complete androgen insensitivity and therefore have not experienced male puberty” or “You are androgen sensitive but male puberty has been suppressed from Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later , and they have since continuously maintained their serum (or plasma) testosterone levels below 2.5 nmol/L” or “An inadvertent deviation from the requirement below 2.5 nmol/L may result in retrospective disqualification of results and/or a expected period of ineligibility, or “Intentional deviation from below 2.5 nmol/L may result in retrospective disqualification of results and an expected period of ineligibility equal to or equal to the FINA DRC time limits for intentional anti-doping rule violations involving anabolic steroids.”
Transgender athletes who do not meet the eligibility criteria may compete in “any open events” that the organization may develop in the future.
“We must protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we must also protect competitive fairness in our events, particularly in the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement.
“FINA will always welcome every athlete. Creating an open category means everyone has the opportunity to compete at an elite level. That has never happened before, so FINA has to lead the way. I want that all athletes feel.” involved in order to be able to develop ideas in this process.”
Lia Thomas’ sudden appearance in the pool during the NCAA swim season put the spotlight on the new rules. Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win NCAA and Ivy League championships in recent months. She swam for the University of Pennsylvania.
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Thomas told Sports Illustrated last month she would be seeking a spot on the national swimming team ahead of the 2024 Olympics.