Swimming’s world governing body, FINA, voted on Sunday to restrict transgender athletes’ participation in elite women’s competitions.
“FINA’s approach in drafting this policy was comprehensive, science-based and inclusive, and, importantly, FINA’s approach emphasized competitive fairness,” Brent Nowicki, the governing body’s executive director, told BBC.
The new policy, which was approved by 71% of FINA’s national federation members, aims to establish an “open” category for transgender athletes to compete in.
Transgender athletes’ participation in women’s competitions has become a major topic of debate in the sporting world in recent years. In 2020, World Rugby banned transgender women from international competitions, becoming the first international federation to do so.
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has been a recent target of scrutiny after the athlete became the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history earlier this year, winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle.
Thomas, who has expressed hopes of competing for a spot in the Olympics, will be barred from participating in the women’s category under the new policy.