‘Whole generation’ of girls to lose out on medals due to ‘ludicrous’ trans sport policies, Olympians warn

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Sharron Davies and Mara Yamauchi piled pressure on Sebastian Coe, the World Athletics chief, as he weighs up a new transgender policy

‘Whole generation’ of girls to lose out on medals due to ‘ludicrous’ trans sport policies, Olympians warn

Women’s sport “no longer exists” in the UK and a “generation” of girls could miss out on medals thanks to “ludicrous” transgender policies, Olympians have warned.

Sharron Davies, who took silver for Britain in the 1980 Olympics, joined forces with Mara Yamauchi, the UK’s third fastest ever female marathoner, to demand urgent change.

Sport chiefs have been grappling with how to include male-born trans women who wish to play in female categories.

But the sports stars said current debates on the issue are flawed, as the focus on winning neglects women who will be “cheated” merely out of qualification places by rivals who have undergone male puberty. 

Yamauchi, whose sixth place in the 2008 Olympics marathon was the joint best ever finish in an Olympic marathon by a British woman, pointed out she qualified for her first GB vest with a margin of just eight seconds. 

“We often hear people say, well, trans women aren’t women, therefore it’s ok,” she told the Filia feminist conference in Cardiff on Sunday. 

“Sport isn’t just about winning, you know? When you go to the Olympics, getting into the semi-finals in athletics is a big deal. Just getting out of your heat is a big deal.

“All these national governing bodies saying, yes, males can compete in women’s sport, it’s completely bonkers to me. I just don’t know how we’re in this situation,” the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist added. 

“The fact of the matter is that now in the UK, boxing – as much as my understanding – is the only sport in which the women’s category is for females only… So it’s fair to say that women’s sport does not exist. This is not an exaggeration.”

Davies lashed out at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as “not an establishment to hold up as an example of how to run sport”, saying she was “so angry” at her experience of racing East Germans “pumped full of testosterone”. 

“In every single medal I’ve ever won there was an East German in front of me who was on drugs. I know how it feels to be cheated out of medals when you could do nothing about it. No matter how hard I trained, six hours a day, I could not bridge that gap,” she said.

“I don’t want that to happen to another generation of young females. Why are we having to have Lia Thomases before we step back and go – there is a difference between male and female biology? This is just crazy.”

The two Olympians piled pressure on Sebastian Coe, the World Athletics chief, to “do the right thing and protect women” as he weighs up a new transgender policy this autumn. 

It comes amid a major backlash to British Rowing’s new gender policy allowing transwomen to race in women’s events, though swimming and cycling have imposed tighter limits. 

While Yamauchi praised British Triathlon for protecting female-only sport, they told the panel chair by the campaign group Fair Play For Women that trans women had an understated advantage. 

“All these policies which allow males into the female category, define eligibility for the female category on levels of testosterone,” she said. 

“You never see mentioned in the policies about everything to do with having a female body which affects sports performance – menstruation and pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, abortion, endometriosis, all these things. 

“So to say that the only difference between males and females is the level of testosterone in an adult male – I can’t even put into words how ludicrous it is.”

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