World Athletics Council bans transgender athletes from competing internationally

The organization’s President Sebastian Coe announced that the decision was taken with the aim to "protect the female category in our sport.”

The World Athletics Council banned transgender athletes from participating in international competitions. The group decided to prohibit athletes who have transitioned from male to female.

World Athletics Council President Sebastian Coe announced that this rule will be effected as of March 31. He further noted that the decision was made in order to "protect the female category in our sport" and indicated that there are currently no transgender athletes competing at the international level.

Due to the repercussions that the announcement may have, the council informed that during the next year it will create a group that will investigate the possible eligibility and inclusion of transgender athletes.

It also noted the implementation of a new rule: blood testosterone levels allowed in the women's categories must now remain below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for at least two years in order to compete in international events. This will affect athletes with abnormalities in sexual development.

World Athletics Council follows in the footsteps of swimming and rugby

The president of the council acknowledged how difficult it was to make the decision, since it affects different groups of people. However, he argued that they must  “maintain fairness to female athletes above all other considerations." Coe also cited "science" in reference to the differences around physical performance between the genders and the male advantage.

Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations. We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.

In 2021, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) empowered each international federation to have its own rules regarding this issue. Swimming and rugby were the first to take action, both agreeing that a transgender athlete who has transitioned to female after going through puberty as a male will not be allowed to compete in women's competitions.