World Athletics, the international governing body for track and field, stated Saturday that it is conferring with member federations on instituting regulatory changes that will affect transgender women and women with what the governing body terms “differences in sexual development.”
The proposal would merge World Athletics’ current trans policy and their policy regarding DSD athletes, which applies to certain events. The new policy would call for a 2.5 nanomole-per-liter limit on serum testosterone that must be held by an athlete for at least two years prior to competition.
The proposed changes would apply to all events and not just race distances between 400 meters and one mile. Such was the backbone of regulations aimed directly at South Africa’s two-time 800-meter champion Caster Semenya when first implemented. The DSD rules, according World Athletics, currently affects 10 active elite competitors, including 2020 Olympic 200-meter silver medalist Christine Mboma of Namibia.
“In terms of our female eligibility regulations, we will follow the science and the decade and more of the research we have in this area in order to protect the female category, maintain fairness in our competitions and remain as inclusive as possible,” World Athletics said in their statement. “In reviewing a number of new and existing studies and observations from the field, we have put forward a preferred option for consultation with our Member Federations.”
The proposal is similar to the policy taken by cycling’s world governing body, UCI, and falls short of the outright ban on transgender women put in place by swimming’s world governing body, FINA, last summer. The swimming policy was at the time of institution publicly supported by World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe, who hinted that World Athletics would craft similar policy.
“If we ever get pushed into a corner to that point where we’re making a judgment about fairness or inclusion, I will always fall down on the side of fairness,” Coe stated to the Guardian last June. “Biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this.”
Some analysts point to the numerous legal battles against the “Caster Semenya rule” as a reason for a slightly softer line as means to stave off a future lawsuit. The Guardian reported that the most recent court decision, a 2020 verdict which upheld their current policy, left World Athletics with a legal victory costing them 1.2 million dollars US in legal fees.