The double Olympic champion Katie Archibald has sharply criticized the transgender policies of the International Olympic Committee and other sports bodies – saying they have not only let down female cyclists by underplaying biology but left trans women, such as Emily Bridges, facing intense scrutiny.
Archibald, who won the second of her cycling gold medals in Tokyo last year alongside Dame Laura Kenny in the Madison, said it was wrong for governing bodies to ignore the science that shows trans women who have gone through male puberty have a retained advantage in strength , stamina and physique.
However, she also expressed deep sympathy for Bridges, who broke the junior men’s 25-mile record before transitioning in 2020, saying she was only following the rules of cycling’s governing body, the UCI, before it decided to block her racing as a woman last. month.
“It is my opinion that the international governing bodies of several sports have let down transgender athletes, in particular transgender women, with their inclusion policies,” Archibald said in a statement.
“These policies have put the athletes, their involvement in sports, and their personal lives under intense scrutiny when all the athletes have done is follow the rules and enter a category they were encouraged to enter.”
Archibald made it clear that she and other females were also being let down by the unwillingness of sports to accept the importance of biology.
“I feel let down by the International Olympic Committee who tell me there should be no assumed advantage for an athlete with a gender identity different to their sex,” she said.
“I read this and hear that my world titles, my Olympic medals, and the champions jerseys I have at home, were all won in a category of people who just don’t try as hard as the men. That losing to male androgenisation is not about biology, but mindset. They are wrong.
She added: “The retained advantage of people who have gone through male puberty in strength, stamina and physique, with or without testosterone suppression, has been well documented.
“Cycling’s global governing body, by its president’s own admission, knows this. But they chose to delay action until it became sadly personal for one rider. That wasn’t fair. ”
Bridges, who came out as a transgender woman in October 2020, continued to compete as a male during her transition, and in February won the men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships.
She had met British Cycling’s previous requirement – that riders in the female category had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter for a 12-month period prior to competition – in time to register for the omnium at the British championships in Derby, but the UCI did not grant a switch in license.
In her statement Archibald also called on governing bodies of sports such as cycling, triathlon and rowing to come together to develop science-based policies, while also making their sport more welcoming for trans athletes. “But I’d like us to do all this without sacrificing one of the foundational pillars of sport: fairness.”