UCI changes transgender participation rules

The first major revision since 2020 will come into effect on July 1.

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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The UCI is changing its transgender participation rules starting July 1.

The UCI released new guidelines Thursday following three days of meetings with its management committee in Arzon, France.

The cycling governing body is changing two key metrics.

First, it is increasing the “transition period” to low testosterone from 12 to 24 months.

Second, it lowered the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level from the current level of 5 nmol/L to 2.5 nmol/L.

In a statement released Thursday, the UCI said that “value corresponds to the maximum testosterone level found in 99.99 percent of the female population.”

The decisions mark the first major revision of the UCI’s rules governing the participation of transgender athletes in events on the UCI calendar in the category corresponding to their new gender identity since 2020.

The UCI said on Thursday it began reconsideration of the rules following the publication of new scientific studies in 2020 and 2021.

Here is the UCI statement in full:

“The principle of eligibility of transgender athletes (in particular female athletes, ie those who have made a transition from male to female) is based on the reversibility under low blood testosterone (the level commonly observed in “born female” athletes) of the physiological abilities that determine sports performance, and on the time needed to achieve this reversibility.

“The latest scientific publications clearly demonstrate that the return of markers of endurance capacity to “female level” occurs within six to eight months under low blood testosterone, while the awaited adaptations in muscle mass and muscle strength/power take much longer (two years minimum according to a recent study).

“Given the important role played by muscle strength and power in cycling performance, the UCI has decided to increase the transition period on low testosterone from 12 to 24 months. In addition, the UCI has decided to lower the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level (currently 5 nmol/L) to 2.5 nmol/L. This value corresponds to the maximum testosterone level found in 99.99% of the female population.

“This adjustment of the UCI’s eligibility rules is based on the state of scientific knowledge published to date in this area and is intended to promote the integration of transgender athletes into competitive sport, while maintaining fairness, equal opportunities and the safety of competitions. The new rules will come into force on 1st July. They may change in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.

“Moreover, the UCI envisages discussions with other International Federations about the possibility of supporting a research program whose objective would be to study the evolution of the physical performance of highly trained athletes under transitional hormone treatment.”

The UCI also cited a study by Prof. Xavier Bigard, “The current knowledge on the effects of gender-affirming treatment on markers of performance in transgender female cyclists, updated June 2022”

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