Leah Thomas asks CAS to overturn World Aquatics' policy on transgender swimmers

Leah Thomas, a transgender swimmer who won the NCAA women's event in 2022 and who said she has ambitions to compete in the Olympics, has asked Switzerland's Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn World Aquatics rules that bar transgender women from competing. In the women's departments.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world's highest court for sporting integrity, acknowledged the case in a statement on Friday, saying Thomas had confirmed the rules were illegal and discriminatory. “Such discrimination cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting aim,” Thomas said. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement Which reformulated its position.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that arbitration proceedings began in September 2023, and that the case remained confidential, in accordance with regulating procedures. But Thomas World Aquatics, the governing body for swimming and many other water sports, agreed that the court should disclose the existence of the case, the court said in its statement. Thursday, The Telegraph reported That the case has been filed.

No date has been set for the hearing.

Thomas' lawyers, based in Canada, and World Aquatics did not respond to messages seeking comment.

World Aquatics, which sets the rules that define elite competitions, including the Olympic Games, introduced a new gender policy in June 2022, allowing transgender women to compete in women's events only if they transitioned before the age of 12 or before one of the early stages of puberty. . This effectively excludes transgender women who have reached puberty from participating in women's races.

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World Aquatics also introduced an “Open” category for athletes who were not assigned female at birth, But he said the department did not get any input At the first event of the Swimming World Cup in Berlin in October.

“World Aquatics remains confident that its gender inclusion policy represents a fair approach and remains absolutely determined to protect women’s sports,” said World Aquatics CEO Brent Nowicki. He told The Telegraph on Friday.

Thomas attended the University of Pennsylvania. She began swimming on the men's swim team in 2017. In May 2019, Thomas began transitioning using hormone replacement therapy. By 2021, Thomas met the NCAA hormone therapy requirements to swim on the Penn women's team.

In March 2022, Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division I National Swimming Championships, becoming the first transgender woman to win a women's collegiate swimming title. “I intend to keep swimming,” Thomas said He told “Good Morning America” ​​in May 2022. “It has been my goal to swim at the Olympic Trials for a very long time, and I would like to achieve it.”

Swimming is one of many sports implementing policies for transgender athletes amid widespread debate over inclusion and competitive fairness. Last year, the governing bodies of track and field as well as cycling ruled that transgender women could not compete in women's events. The International Cycling Union made its decision last July, after American Austin Killes became the first openly transgender woman to win a cycling event.

(Photo: Mike Comer/NCAA Images via Getty Images)

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