World Athletics Council Announces Key Decisions on Female Eligibility, Plus Updates on Russia and Belarus
New DSD and transgender regulations will be impactful for athletes
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On Thursday, the World Athletics Council, the governing body for the sport of athletics, announced several decisions regarding eligibility regulations for athletes who are transgender or who have Differences in Sexual Development (DSD), as well as the future participation of the Member Federations of Russia and Belarus in athletics.
Transgender and DSD Regulations
For DSD athletes, the new regulations will require any relevant athletes to reduce their testosterone levels below a limit of 2.5 nmol/L for a minimum of 24 months to compete internationally in the female category in any event, not just the events that were restricted (400m to one mile) under the previous regulations.
For those athletes already competing in what were the unrestricted distances and events—distances under 400m and those above one mile, plus field events—interim provisions will require them to suppress testosterone levels below a limit of 2.5 nmol/L for a minimum of 6 months before they are eligible to compete again.
The new regulations go into effect on March 31, and the full report can be read here.
The end of March date also puts into rule the exclusion from World Ranking female competition of male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty.
“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe, who was a two-time Olympic 1,500m champion for Great Britain in the 1980s: “We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”
The decision regarding DSD athletes has been based on 10 years of research and data of the physical advantages. However, there are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in track and field, and no athlete-specific evidence of the impact on the fairness of female competition. With that in mind, the Council has announced it is setting up a Working Group for 12 months to further consider transgender inclusion.
Russia Doping Ban Lifted
The report also announced the Russian Athletic Federation, banned for seven years due to doping, has been reinstated after having met all the requirements set by the World Athletics Federation. RusAF will now be required to comply with a series of Special Conditions for a period of three years, followed by a review at the end of that period. As part of the reinstatement RusAF, will be categorized as an ‘A’ member. Such a designation means they are subject to more stringent scrutiny and testing requirements.
“It has been a mammoth undertaking over seven years but their commitment and diligence has given the Council confidence that the Russian Federation has reformed its structure and culture and is now on the right path in terms of addressing doping issues,” Coe said. “It is important that RusAF continues on this path, but we are confident the Athletics Integrity Unit has the expertise to monitor and assess the situation going forwards.”
However, in the same announcement, the World Athletics Council also reaffirmed its original March 2022 decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes, support personnel, Member Federation officials and officials who are citizens of those two countries from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future.
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