Sharron Davies, a former British Olympic swimmer and broadcaster with the BBC, is speaking out against a transgender woman poised to compete against biological women in weightlifting for New Zealand in the Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules, Lauren Hubbard, a man who has “identified” as a woman since 2013, has been eligible to compete in the Games since 2015. In 2017, he won a silver medal in the women’s super heavyweight category at the World Championships.
“Sport is for all, but it must be fair,” said Davies, who won a silver medal in the 400 meters medley at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. “I am pro everyone doing sport, but I feel sex, not self-identified gender, should be how we compete.”
“I speak out because of personal experience of the East German doping programme when illegally-added male levels of testosterone cheated women out of success for years, unstopped by the International Olympic Committee or any other sporting bodies,” Davies said. “It was a shameful period.
“We were as aware then as we are now that it was not fair, cheating hundreds of people out of their rightful medals and rewards. It can’t happen again to even one female.
‘Women’s sport has made such strides, and we still don’t have equality with airtime, coverage, sponsorship, awareness, or prize money,” Davies said. “But this is another kick in the teeth for female athletes. Sadly, I think people will only see how unfair this is when it happens in front of their eyes.”
“Some young females will lose medals, places, and success before we do something about the obvious, which is males are stronger and faster,” Davies said. “It is a biological reality every single Olympic event shows.”
The Daily Mail reported on Davies and other top athletes opposition to transgender competition:
Davies’ argument is backed up by scientific studies which found that people who have gone through puberty as males retain advantages in power and strength, regardless of suppressing testosterone levels.
Davies, two-time Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, former marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, and 60 other top-class athletes wrote to IOC president Thomas Bach expressing concerns in 2019 but did not receive a response.
While the IOC promised to update their framework based on the latest evidence, that is yet to happen.
“Weightlifting is an event where there’s up to a 30 percent advantage,” Davies said. ‘No matter how hard we train, even an Olympian cannot afford to give away a 10-30 percent advantage.”
“There’s a reason we have men and women’s events — to give females a chance of equal opportunities of success, the same reason we have age bands for juniors or classes in the Paralympics,” Davies said. “If we had co-ed sport at the Olympics, we’d have no female champions.”
“I’m not anti-transgender, but I’m pro-female sport, facts, and fairness,” Davies said. “Feelings are no fair way to categorise sport. Our biological sex will be the same the day you are born to the day you die.”
But the New Zealand Olympic Committee disagrees.
“The team has a strong culture of inclusion and respect for all,” it said. “We look forward to supporting all our athletes selected in Tokyo.”
Dr. Nicola Williams, director of British campaign group Fair Play For Women, said in the Daily Mail report:
“Female sports category exists so women have the chance to win. Here’s a person who was never internationally successful as a man, who can come into women’s competition and be an Olympic contender at 43. If you’re wondering if transwomen retain their male advantage, here’s your proof.”
The IOC has said it is reviewing its policies.
“Recognizing there is a perceived tension between fairness/safety and inclusion/non-discrimination, the IOC decided in October 2019 to work on a new comprehensive and rights-respecting approach to address the complexity of this issue,” the IOC said. “Currently, the IOC is developing new guidance to help ensure that athletes — regardless of gender identity and/or sex characteristics — can engage in safe and fair competition.”
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