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British Cycling says it will ban biological males from competing in its female category under a new participation policy its governing body says is “predicated on fairness,” following a review of the rules ordered amidst the controversy concerning England’s highest-profile transgender cyclist, Emily Bridges.
The policy comes after a nine-month review and consultation and says that instead, trans women will compete in an “open category” with men, while the female category will be restricted to riders “whose sex was assigned female at birth,” reports the BBC.
This will potentially keep Bridges from becoming part of the British Cycling women’s team.
The organization said, when announcing the new rule, that “research studies indicate that even with the suppression of testosterone, transgender women who transition post-puberty retain a performance advantage.”
“Our aim in creating our policies has always been to advance and promote equality, diversity, and inclusion, while at the same time prioritizing fairness of competition,” it added. “We recognize the impact the suspension of our policy has had on trans and non-binary people, and we are sorry for the uncertainty and upset that many have felt during this period.”
The new policies are to be implemented by the end of this year.
Last year, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world’s cycling federation, stopped Bridges from competing in the British National Omnium Championship, even though she had met the rules that were in place at the time.
Before changing its rules, British Cycling let transgender women compete in elite female events as long as they met testosterone regulations, but the rules were suspended as controversy over Bridges grew.
Bridges, who came out as transgender in 2020, had previously set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles and had been selected to join British Cycling’s senior academy in 2019.
After she started hormone therapy, she became eligible to compete in elite women’s events under British Cycling regulations that were in place at that time.