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IOC to Allow Federations to Determine Criteria for Transgender, Intersex Athletes

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The International Olympic Committee will allow federations to make their own eligibility criteria on transgender and intersex athletes rather than adopt one that is all-encompassing.

The IOC made its announcement Tuesday, which is a rollback of a blanket policy adopted in 2015. According to a new framework, the IOC calls on federations to focus on inclusion, prevention of harm, non-discrimination, fairness, no presumption of advantage, evidence-based approach, primacy of health and bodily autonomy, stakeholder-centered approach, right to privacy and periodic reviews in their determinations regarding the athletes’ participation.

“The framework is not legally binding,” IOC director of the athletes’ department Kaveh Mehrabi said. “What we are offering to all the international federations is our expertise and a dialogue, rather than jumping to a conclusion. This is a process that we have to go through with each federation on a case by case basis and see what is required.”

The IOC has had a policy on transgender and intersex athletes in place since 2004. The initial policy required gender reassignment surgery for an athlete to compete in their chosen gender. That policy was changed in 2015, but the IOC still required athletes to meet a certain testosterone threshold to compete. 

“It’s very important that we broaden the evidence base, IOC medical and scientific director Richard Budgett said. “There is some interesting ongoing research that needs to come to conclusion, and that will give us much more information about performance, which is the issue that is really key to determining eligibility.”

Out transgender athletes competed for the first time in this year’s Summer Olympics. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and American BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe qualified for the Games, while Canadian soccer player Quinn and American skateboarder Alana Smith were the first nonbinary athletes in Olympics history.

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