The Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling’s world governing body, announced Friday that transgender women seeking to compete in UCI-sanctioned events must wait 24 months before they are eligible to compete in women’s events.
In addition to the 24-month transition period, the limit on serum testosterone was lowered from 5 nanomoles/liter to 2.5 nanomoles/liter.
According to the UCI’s statement, their rationale for the policy change came from “recent studies” involving different areas of the issue. A detailed report that drew from variety of sources further explained the rationale behind the new regulations set to take effect July 1.
“This value corresponds to the maximum testosterone level found in 99.99% of the female population,” the statement reads. “This adjustment of the UCI’s eligibility rules is based on the state of scientific knowledge published to date in this area and is intended to promote the integration of transgender athletes into competitive sport, while maintaining fairness, equal opportunities and the safety of competitions.”
Ironically one of the studies cited by the UCI is the long-term research project at Loundsborough University in the UK. British cyclist Emily Bridges, who has been at the center of a dispute with the UCI over eligibility that may have prompted this policy change, has submitted training data and undergone testing as part of this project.
Bridges was ruled eligible under then-UCI regulations to take part in the British Cycling-sponsored National Omnium Championships in April, only to have that eligibility rescinded prior to the event.
Some have speculated that Bridges was kept out of the competition as a response to possible protests at the competition venue. Similar actions by known anti-trans groups against trans women in competition occurred at the USA Cycling Cyclocross Nationals last fall, and the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Division Championships this past March.
The latter protests, pointed against University of Pennsylvania swimmer and NCAA champion Lia Thomas, included a group from the UK led by prominent anti-transgender activist Kellie Jay Keen.
The decision in April took away a chance for Bridges to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, representing her native Wales.
Depending on rulings like that directly regarding Bridges, the new policy potentially removes her from consideration from a number of major competitions, including the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris; It’s unclear whether this policy starts the two-year clock on July 1, when the athlete began documenting their transition or some other time.
A statement in response to the new policy came from Bridges’ mother, Sandy Sullivan, via Twitter after the changes were announced by the UCI.
“On 11th May UCI requested Em provide additional blood tests over a period of 3 months along with some personal information,” the statement says. “We are now seeking clarity on why they asked for this information. when they were already planning on a policy change eluded to by their President during a televised interview in late Spring.
“As you can imagine this uncertainty and moving of goalposts has created a significant amount of distress and upset to Em, to us as a family & the wider trans community. We won’t be adding to these comments until we have obtained the clarity we seek.”