Track and field has banned transgender athletes from international competition while adopting new regulations that could also keep Caster Semenya and other athletes with differences in sex development from competing.
In a pair of decisions expected to stoke outrage, the World Athletics Council adopted the same rules as swimming did last year by deciding to bar athletes who have transitioned from male to female and have gone through male puberty.
No such athletes currently compete at the highest elite levels of track.
Another set of updates, for athletes with differences in sex development (DSD), will impact 13 athletes, WA President Sebastian Coe said.
They include Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 metres from South Africa who has been barred from that event since 2019.
Semenya and others had been able to compete in events outside the restricted range of 400m through one mile, but will now have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment for six months before competing to be eligible.
Semenya has been trying to compete in longer events. She finished 13th in her qualifying heat at 5,000 metres at the world championships last year.
To compete at next year’s Olympics, she would have to undergo hormone-suppressing treatment for six months, something she has said she will never do again, having undergone the treatment a decade ago under previous rules.
Coe told a news conference that the decision to exclude transgender women was based “on the overarching need to protect the female category”.
The governing body had previously floated the option of transgender athletes being allowed to compete in the female category if they maintained testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre for 24 months.
Yet it said on Thursday that it became apparent there was little support within the sport for that proposal.
“We’re not saying no forever,” Coe said, adding that WA would form a task force to study the issue of trans inclusion that would be chaired by a transgender athlete.
The tighter rules will impact other DSD athletes such as Christine Mboma, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist in the 200m, and Francine Niyonsaba, who finished runner-up to Semenya in the 800 at the 2016 Olympics.
At the 2020 Olympics, Semenya and Burundi’s Niyonsaba were both barred from the 800m before turning their attention to the 5,000.
Semenya failed to qualify for the Games while Niyonsaba made the final before being disqualified for a lane violation.
Namibia’s Mboma, prevented from running the 400m, switched to the 200m, winning silver.