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UCI passes stricter rules for transgender participation

New regulations create stricter rules for transgender females hoping to compete against cisgender female riders.

The UCI has adopted a new set of rules governing the participation of transgender riders in sanctioned cycling events, the governing body revealed on Tuesday.

The new rules create a more stringent policy for transgender female riders hoping to compete against cisgender female riders. Previously, the UCI followed the International Olympic Committee’s rules, which required transgender female riders to maintain a maximum testosterone serum level of 10 nanomoles/liter for 12 months, among other requirements.

The new rules cut that level in half, requiring transgender female riders to maintain a maximum testosterone serum level of 5 nm/l for 12 months, among other requirements. The new rules are set to take effect on March 1, 2020.

In a statement, UCI President David Lappartient said the new rules guarantee a “level playing field for all competitors.”

“Thanks to this consensus, achieved by a working group representing our sport’s various stakeholders, our federation has given itself the wherewithal to take into consideration – and in reflection of developments in our society – the desire of transgender athletes to compete, while guaranteeing a level playing field for all competitors,” Lappartient said. “This is an important step in the inclusion of transgender athletes in elite sport.”

What is the eligibility procedure?
All transgender athletes wishing to compete in the category corresponding to their new gender, must make their request to the medical manager appointed by the UCI, at least six weeks prior the date of their first competition.

The athlete’s file will be passed on to a commission of three independent, international experts. The commission’s members will assess the athlete’s eligibility to compete in the new gender category, and will inform the UCI’s medical officer of their conclusions.

Athletes must prove that their serum testosterone level has been below 5 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to the eligibility date. If deemed eligible, the athlete must agree to keep their serum testosterone level below 5 nmol/L for the entire time they compete in the women’s category. The athlete must undergo serum testosterone tests conducted using a benchmark method (mass spectrometry).

Once eligibility to compete has been confirmed, the UCI’s medical manager will be responsible for ensuring the athlete complies with the eligibility regulations throughout their sporting career. Should the athlete fail to do so, the medical manager may choose to suspend their eligibility to compete, until such time as the athlete proves that they are able to comply with the criteria again.

In the event of any breach of the regulations, a penalty system shall come into effect. Penalties shall range from a mere reprimand and warning to disqualification and a fine.

The UCI has asked its national federations to include these new directives in their regulations.

New rules follow IAAF
The UCI’s new rules follow similar new rules instituted by the International Associations of Athletics Federation, which in October, passed its own set of rules governing transgender female participation. The IAAF rules also lowered the testosterone serum levels from 10 nanomoles/liter to 5 nm/L.

The IOC maintains the 10nm/L requirements, although in September, a report suggested the Olympic committee delayed plans to change the rules after its panel of experts failed to agree on a new policy.