British Cycling suspends male-born cyclists from women’s events pending transgender policy review

British Cycling suspended Friday its policy on transgender participation, blocking male-born cyclists from women’s elite competition as the organization addresses a conflict with the international authority’s rules.

In a statement, British Cycling said its board of directors voted Wednesday for “an immediate suspension of the current policy, pending a full review, which will be initiated in the coming weeks.”

The decision comes a week after the organization disqualified 21-year-old cyclist Emily Bridges from the British National Omnium Championships, saying the male-born athlete had been ruled ineligible under the Union Cycliste International [UCI] guidelines.

“Due to the difference in policies held by British Cycling and the UCI relating to the licensing process, it is currently possible for trans-female athletes to gain eligibility to race domestically while their cases remain pending with the UCI (or indeed in situations where they are deemed ineligible), ”said the British Cycling statement.

“This in turn allows those riders to accrue domestic ranking points which impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented in our sport, but is also unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing,” the organization said.

The review of the current Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy “will allow time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities.”

The [U.K.] Guardian newspaper reported last week that some female cyclists were ready to boycott the event if Bridges had been cleared to compete.

Bridges, who transitioned to female in 2020, previously belonged to British Cycling’s elite Senior Academy program as a male racer, and set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles in 2018.

Bridges took issue with being ruled ineligible, saying in an April 1 statement that “I have provided both British Cycling and UCI with medical evidence that I meet the eligibility criteria for transgender female cyclists,” including meeting the testosterone-level requirement.

In 2020, UCI tightened its eligibility criteria for male-born athletes in women’s competition, reducing the testosterone-in-blood requirement from less than 10 nanomoles / Liter to 5 nmol / L for at least 12 months before competing.

The UCI said the problem was that Bridges was still registered as a male cyclist, and would be ineligible to compete against women until the registration expired.

British Cycling said Friday that the organization “will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our sport remains free of hate, discrimination and abuse in all forms, and that we prioritize the welfare of riders, volunteers, event organizers, commissaires and others that our sport can not continue without. ”

More than 600 athletes and sports researchers signed in April 4 letter from the Union Cycliste Feminine calling for UCI to rescind its transgender rule and implement eligibility rules for women’s categories based on “female biological characteristics.”

The LGBTQ group Pride Out blasted the policy suspension, saying British Cycling “appears to be bending to political pressure and cowing to the transphobic gender-critical movement.”

Sandy Sullivan, Bridges’ mother, tweeted a copy of the British cycling announcement with the message: “Dumped by email. We’ve just received this in our inbox. We will be making a statement at some point during the next 24 hrs. ”

British cycling champion Nicole Cook, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said she was “delighted” with British Cycling’s decision to review its policy.

“Trans athletes must be able to compete in and enjoy fair sport. Biological female athletes must also be able to compete in and enjoy fair sport, ”she tweeted.

Leave a Comment