The UCI has released an update on plans to change the rules for transgender women competing in cycling.
New regulations will be introduced next month lowering the maximum testosterone limit for transgender racers by 50 per cent, after long-running dispute in the sporting world about the fairness of such rules.
Late last year, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) hosted talks to agree new rules for transgender athletes which resulted in the decision that regulations should be decided by governing bodies in each sport, and that the current maximum testosterone limit should be halved for transgender women.
The UCI has now formally ratified the new testosterone limit, which will come into effect on March 1, and the testing procedures around it.
UCI president David Lappartient said: “The adoption of new directives in the UCI regulations will provide the cycling community as a whole with a clearly defined regulatory framework that applies to everyone.
“Thanks to this consensus, achieved by a working group representing our sport’s various stakeholders, our federation has given itself the wherewithal to take into consideration – and in reflection of developments in our society – the desire of transgender athletes to compete, while guaranteeing a level playing field for all competitors.
“This is an important step in the inclusion of transgender athletes in elite sport.”
Transgender athletes have been able to compete in the Olympics since 2004 but under the requirement they had undergone gender confirmation surgery and been on hormone therapy for two years.
In 2015, these rules were relaxed to remove the need for surgery and the athletes must have a testosterone level below 10nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to their first competition. The average range for adult females is 0.52 to 2.8 nmol/L, with levels above 2.7 described as the “upper limit of normal.”
But this 10nmol/L limit will now be halved to 5nmol/L under the new rule.
The reason given for the 5nmol/L testosterone level is because the threshold may be higher than the levels often found in women, (between 0 and 1.7 nmol/L) but most transgender women’s testosterone level is typically well below the 5 nmol/L limit.
All transgender athletes wishing to compete in their new gender must make their request to the UCI medical manager at least six weeks before their first competition, the UCI said.
The athlete’s file will then be passed on to a commission of three independent international experts to be assed for eligibility, and the rider must prove their testosterone level has been below 5nmol/L for at least 12 months.
Changes were formally approved by the UCI’s management committee, which met ahead of the Cyclocross World Championships in Dübendorf, Switzerland on January 30