Lia Thomas Loses Appeal to Overturn World Aquatics Transgender Ban

2022-wncaas lia thomas
Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA Women's Championships -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Lia Thomas Loses Appeal to Overturn World Aquatics Transgender Ban

More than two years after her controversial 500-yard freestyle victory at the NCAA Championships, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled against former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas in her appeal seeking to overturn a ban on transgender female swimmers in elite international competition. According to multiple news sources, Thomas lost her appeal because CAS ruled she had no grounds to challenge World Aquatics rules.

According to an article from The Guardian, the CAS decision said that Thomas was “simply not entitled to engage with eligibility to compete in WA competitions” because she was not a member of USA Swimming. The court wrote that Thomas could swim in non-elite USA Swimming events if she registered with the organization, although Thomas has not been a USA Swimming member since before the conclusion of her college career.

World Aquatics released a statement on the organization’s legal victory. “World Aquatics is dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes fairness, respect, and equal opportunities for athletes of all genders and we reaffirm this pledge,” World Aquatics said, according to USA TODAY Sports. “Our policies and practices are continuously evaluated to ensure they align with these core values, which led to the introduction of our open category.”

The aforementioned “open” category would allow transgender athletes to compete according to their respective gender identity, but an attempt to introduce open events during the World Cup circuit last fall were unsuccessful when no athletes entered those events.

The rules that Thomas was targeting were introduced in 2022 on the heels of Thomas’ appearance at the NCAA Women’s Championships, which led to protests of her inclusion in the meet on the grounds of fairness as well as counter-protests supporting Thomas’ right to swim. World Aquatics ruled that transgender athletes could not compete in the female category if they were assigned male at birth and then underwent male puberty prior to transitioning. That rule essentially eliminated any chance of Thomas continuing her career after college.

Several news sources wrote that this decision will keep Thomas out of the Olympics, but it’s worth nothing that she has not competed in any capacity since March 2022 and never raced in a long course meet after transitioning. In order to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials, she would have needed to record a qualification time during the official qualifying period, which began November 29, 2022 and ran through Sunday.

Read more from USA TODAY Sports here, and read more from The Guardian here.

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1 month ago

Thomas could still swim an Open or Men’s event.
Your chromosomes are immutable nomatter what artificial pharmaceutical and surgical alterations are undertaken.

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