Elite cheaters

Sean Ingle notes that finally the powers that be are having to pay attention.

The biggest battles in this summer of sport are being fought over in the boardrooms and backrooms, as federations wrestle with the thorniest question of all: should transgender women be allowed to participate in female sport?

It’s only “thorny” because fools made it thorny. It wasn’t thorny before. It was settled practice: men didn’t play on women’s teams or race against women or get in the ring with women.

For years most have regarded the issue as too dangerous to touch: the sporting equivalent of playing pass the parcel with a live grenade. Now, though, they have no choice. The emergence of elite trans women, such as the weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, the swimmer Lia Thomas and the cyclist Emily Bridges, has seen to that. Decisions are having to be made. Hard choices, too.

Elite? Elite? On the contrary. The whole point is that they’re middling at their sport, and pretend to be women in order to steal wins from women. They’re not elite athletes, and they are willing to harm women who are elite athletes for their own gratification.

But the decision of both swimming and rugby league in the past 48 hours to bar trans women from international competition does not necessarily mean that the majority of sports will follow suit. World Athletics is the most likely, given Sebastian Coe’s comments on Monday that “fairness is non-negotiable” and “biology trumps identity”. But after that the situation is murky – with most sports still using some form of testosterone limits, for all their flaws, to permit trans women to compete in the female category.

That breezy “for all their flaws” is nice. Their “flaws”=lying about the advantage to men and the unfairness to women. That’s not a flaw, it’s a calculated, persisted-in, determined insult to women.

Last Friday, for instance, cycling’s governing body, the UCI, opted to ride down a different path. It, too, accepts that the science shows that trans women have an advantage. But it says some unfairness to females in sport is acceptable in exchange for being inclusive.

Not unfairness to males of course. That would never do. It’s fine to accept unfairness (and it’s more than “some”) to women, because women just don’t matter.

Cycling’s new policy says cyclists such as Bridges can compete in the female category only if they keep their testosterone below 2.5ml for 24 months. But, in a crucial and under-reported passage, it also states that fair competition is not essential. “It may not be necessary, or even possible, to eliminate all individual advantages held by a transgender,” the UCI writes in a policy document. “It is paramount, however, that all athletes competing have a chance to succeed, albeit not necessarily an equal chance and in line with the true essence of sport.”

That’s opaque and downright incoherent, but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as the men get what they want.

Understandably women’s groups are angry, regarding such an approach as unscientific and unfair.

Of course it’s unfair! Why doesn’t everyone regard it as unfair?

Watching this happen is a very embittering experience, I have to say. It really does make it all too plain that most people are happy to shrug off women and their goals and ambitions and hopes.

2 Responses to “Elite cheaters”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting