26 Nov 2021

Former top NZ marathon runner criticises new IOC transgender rules

12:45 pm on 26 November 2021

Former New Zealand marathon runner Alison Roe has criticised the International Olympic Committee's new framework for transgender and intersex athletes.

Alison Roe

Alison Roe says the IOC's recent changes are "indefensible". Photo: Photosport

Recently the IOC announced a new framework for transgender and intersex athletes, dropping controversial policies that required competing athletes to undergo "medically unnecessary" procedures or treatment.

The new framework makes inclusion the first of the guiding principles and drops the testosterone suppression requirements.

But in a statement the Save Women's Sport Australasia lobby group said the new framework fails to balance the rights of female athletes to safety and fair competition and was a "cop out".

"The IOC decision released last week ignores the wealth of scientific evidence, and common sense, that males have a competitive advantage against females in almost all sports," said the organisation's spokesperson Ro Edge.

"It has effectively eliminated the female category in sports by now allowing any male to compete in the female category on the basis only of "self-identification" as a woman,'" she said.

Roe, who won the New York marathon in 1981, said "it wasn't that long ago that women around the globe stood up for and claimed their own sporting categories in order to participate fairly and to be recognised in sport....now women are having to literally 'fight' to protect their own women's category".

"In order to restrict a male from competing as a female, an individual sporting body will have to provide its own "robust and peer-reviewed research" to prove that women will be unfairly disadvantaged.

"This is indefensible....it's clear the IOC hasn't been able to figure out how to allow the inclusion of transwomen in the female category without it impacting fairness and safety for female athletes - and that's because it is an impossible task," said Roe.

Alison Roe on her way to victory at the New York marathon in 1981.

Alison Roe on her way to victory at the New York marathon in 1981. Photo: Photosport

The IOC Transgender Framework prioritises inclusion said Edge.

"It states that "everyone, regardless of gender identity, should be able to participate in sport safely and without prejudice".

"While no one should disagree with that, the real question is, should a person have the right to participate in any category they choose?"