Scots Olympian Katie Archibald slams governing bodies’ treatment of transgender athlete

Scots Olympic champion Katie Archibald has slammed the cycling governing bodies for their handling of transgender athlete Emily Bridges.

Archibald, who won gold in Tokyo last summer, said she felt “let down” by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the International Olympic Committee.

The debate is centered around concerns that transgender women athletes retain a biological advantage from going through male puberty that is not addressed by lowering testosterone.

A review by the Sports Councils Equality Group (SCEG) last year said “for many sports, the inclusion of transgender people, fairness and safety cannot co-exist in a single competitive model.”

Bridges, 21, was due to compete at the national omnium championships earlier this month after British Cycling initially agreed she met their eligibility standards.

Emily Bridges and all other athletes have been ‘let down’ by the governing bodies, according to Katie Archibald

But she was blocked from competing at the last minute in a move Scots cyclist Archibald says ‘wasn’t fair.’

The Mirror reports on the eve of this weekend’s Nations Cup event in Glasgow, she issued a statement saying: “It is my opinion that the international governing bodies of several sports have let down transgender athletes, in particular transgender women, with their inclusion policies.

“These policies have put the athletes, their involvement in sport and their personal lives under intense scrutiny when all the athletes have done is follow the rules and enter a category they were encouraged to enter.

“I, too, feel let down by these policies.

“I feel let down by the International Olympic Committee who tell me there should be no assumed advantage for an athlete with a gender identity different to their sex.

“I read this and hear that my world titles, my Olympic medals, and the champions jerseys I have at home, were all won in a category of people who simply don’t try as hard as the men. That losing to male androgenisation is not about biology, but mindset.

Bridges, who was in British Cycling’s senior academy in 2019, came out as a transgender woman in October 2020.

She continued to compete as a male during her transition, and in February won the men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships.

In a statement released earlier this month, Bridges slammed the “lack of clarity” in terms of why she had been blocked from competing and said she felt “relentlessly harassed and demonized” by the media.

She said: “I have provided both British Cycling and the UCI with medical evidence that I meet the eligibility criteria for transgender female cyclists, including that my testosterone limit has been far below the limit prescribed by the regulations for the last 12 months.

“Despite the public announcement, I still have little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility under their regulations. I am an athlete, and I just want to race competitively again.

“No-one should have to choose between being who they are, and participating in the sport that they love.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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