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Elite swimming is the first sport to ban transgender athletes from women's races even if they went through male puberty, the international sports federation for swimming announced Sunday. Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer, is pictured
The decision to ban transgender athletes from FINA events was made during the federation's extraordinary general congress as the world championships take place in Budapest.
Members of the organization heard from a transgender task force comprising leading medical, legal and sports figures, which first convened to discuss the issue after the International Olympic Committee urged individual sports federations to create guidance on transgender athletes in November.
At the time, the IOC urged the federations to shift their focus from individual testosterone levels, and called for evidence to prove when a performance advantage existed.
Husain Al Musallam, the president of FINA, announced the new policy on Sunday
The experts concluded in their policythat there needs to be eligibility standards based on biological sex, writing: 'Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums on in championship positions.'
As the scientists explained, biological males see their testosterone levels increase 20 fold during puberty, while the levels remain low in biological women during puberty - often around the age of 12.
'A biological female athlete cannot overcome that advantage through training or nutrition. Nor can they take additional testosterone to obtain the same advantage, because testosterone is a prohibited substance under the World Anti Doping Code.'
The policy was passed with a 71 percent majority after it was put to the members of 152 national federations with voting rights who had gathered for the congress at the Puskas Arena.
Around 15 percent voted no to the policy on eligibility in the men's and women's competition categories, while 13 percent abstained.
Husain Al-Musallam, president of FINA, then announced the news on Sunday afternoon.
'I do not want any athlete to be told they cannot compete at the highest level,' Al-Musallam told a congress of his organization today.
'I will set up a working group to set up an open category at our meets.
'We will be the first federation to do that.'
And following the news, Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy Meichetry thanked the organization for its decision, while Ross Tucker, the co-host of the Science of Sports podcast tweeted: 'Thank you FINA for listening to women, your own swimmers and coaches, and to science in creating a policy that respects women’s sport.'