the university of Pennsylvania Swimmer Lia Thomas was not in the pool for the Quakers on Friday night when the Ivy League team defeated West Chester University (Pa.) in their final game of the regular season.
Thomas, a transgender swimmer who has been in the national spotlight after winning races at a breakneck pace, was postponed in preparation for the Ivy League Championships taking place in February.
“Friday had long been a planned rest day for Lia and some of our other top swimmers as they prepare for the championships next month,” a UPenn Athletics spokesperson told the Washington Times.
Without Thomas in the line-up, UPenn was able to finish the season with a win. Four Penn swimmers won events.
Thomas’ eligibility as she and UPenn prepare for the NCAA Championships has been called into question after the organization updated its transgender participation policy, giving the sport’s federation the responsibility of coming up with guidelines.
The updated policy for the NCAA says that by March, “Transgender student athletes must document sport-specific testosterone levels as of four weeks prior to their sports championship selection.
Beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender student athletes will require documented levels at the start of their season and a second documentation six months after the first. They also require documented testosterone levels four weeks before the championship selections. Full implementation would begin with the 2023-2024 academic year.”
USA Swimming uses an eligibility assessment panel to make a decision about the eligibility of transgender athletes. Elite swimmers would be up to FINA and International Olympic Policy of the Committee (IOC).
USA Swimming released a statement on the matter last week.
“USA Swimming strongly believes in inclusiveness and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a way that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. We also strongly believe in competitiveness and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves about the right balance in this space,” the organization said.
“In 2018, we established inclusion procedures for athletes, which include both a process by which an athlete can change their competition category in accordance with their gender identity and criteria for athletes who qualify for or participate in elite-level competitions (including those competition time qualifications such as Juniors, Nationals and US Open), which adhered to previous International Olympic Committee guidelines. This policy also provides important attention to individual athlete.
“The inclusion procedures for non-elite athletes remain unchanged. Following significant changes to transgender policy in November 2021, the IOC now requires international federations to set their own sport-specific eligibility requirements, which is why we have been proactively working with FINA for several months to shape and support their policy development efforts. We think they will be releasing a new policy soon, which we will adopt for elite level competitions.
“USA Swimming is a member-led organization governed by a 15-member board of directors, which oversees more than 360,000 members, including coaches, volunteers and more than 325,000 athletes from age group level to the Olympic team. These individuals and 2,800 member clubs participate through a network of 59 Local Swimming Committees (LSCs) in four geographic zones across the US. As the NCAA makes its decision to qualify for NCAA eligibility, we welcome and look forward to adding U.S. NCAA athletes and coaches to our membership to be eligible to be governed by our policies and regulations. its provisions and benefits.”
The IOC updated its transgender participation policy in November 2021, abstaining from focusing on testosterone levels to determine eligibility, according to The Washington Post. The IOC urged the governing bodies of each individual sport to draft the rules and provide assistance.
The Ivy League Championships are scheduled for February 16-19 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The NCAA said the policy would begin with the winter championships. The Women’s NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships are scheduled for March 16-19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.