British Triathlon introduces open category for men and trans women | Athletics News

British Triathlon will soon introduce two categories for competition: one for athletes who were female at birth and one open category for men, transgender women and non-binary athletes.

The decision is aimed at creating a transparent, fair and inclusive sport and is the result of months of research and consultation.

It comes after FINA, the world governing body for swimming, voted last month to ban transgender women from competing in elite women’s races, while several other sports are reviewing their inclusion policies.

Some governing bodies are considering introducing open categories, but the UK triathlon is believed to be the first to implement one.

“We are passionately convinced that triathlon is a sport for everyone,” said Andy Salmon, Chief Executive of British Triathlon, explaining the move.

He said athletes who have gone through male puberty have a “significant advantage” in each of triathlon’s swimming, cycling and running disciplines.

The policy will come into effect on January 1, 2023 and provide that competitive triathlon events in Great Britain will be split into two categories for athletes over the age of 12.

Currently, transgender women compete with other women, provided they meet British triathlon criteria, which include a measurement of the athlete’s testosterone levels.

While acknowledging the inclusion debate is a “complex and polarizing issue”, Mr Salmon said the governing body wanted to do what’s right for sport.

“I beg everyone to respond to this policy with sensitivity and respect,” he added.

Last week, Culture Minister Nadine Dorries expressed her frustration at the fact that the sports boards have not resolved the debate on transgender inclusion sooner.

She urged sport to protect fairness over inclusion, but British Triathlon insists the policy was agreed before a recent meeting with the culture minister and that it was worded “free of political pressure”.

Of the 3,167 British triathlon members surveyed, 80% preferred the new model. Sixteen of the respondents said they identified as transgender.

British Triathlon said it had had more detailed discussions about the policy change with three transgender triathletes.

Mr Salmon said he wanted a policy that would be future-proof: “Right now we are not aware of high-level transgender athletes (in triathlon), but we don’t know what will happen tomorrow or the next day.”