February 23rd, 2024

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas asks CAS to overturn race ban rules as discrimination

By The Associated Press on January 26, 2024.

FILE - Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas waits for results after swimming the women's 200 freestyle final at the NCAA swimming and diving championships, Friday, March 18, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has asked a Swiss sports court to overturn rules imposed by the World Aquatics governing body which stop her competing in elite women’s races. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 it has registered Thomas’ request but no date for a hearing was decided. Confidentiality around a case begun in September was lifted after it was reported in British media. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has asked a Swiss sports court to overturn rules imposed by World Aquatics that stop her competing in elite women’s races and she says are discrimination.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Friday it registered Thomas’ request but no date for a hearing was decided. Confidentiality around a case begun in September was lifted after it was reported in British media.

“Ms Thomas seeks an order from the CAS declaring that the (World Aquatics rules) are unlawful, invalid, and of no force and effect,” said the court based in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

World Aquatics agreed on rules in June 2022 that banned transgender women who have been through male puberty from competing in women’s races. It also created an “open” category for which transgender athletes would be eligible.

Other Olympic sports bodies including track and field and cycling have since adopted similar rules which supporters say acknowledge physical advantages from male puberty that athletes retain long term after transitioning.

Swimming’s rules were agreed months after Thomas, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania, won a national college title in the 500-yard freestyle. Thomas’ results in women’s races exceeded her previous results in men’s races.

Though the NCAA championships were held outside the World Aquatics system, Thomas said she hoped one day to compete in U.S. Olympic trials.

“Ms Thomas accepts that fair competition is a legitimate sporting objective and that some regulation of transgender women in swimming is appropriate,” the Swiss court said.

“However, Ms Thomas submits that the (rules) are invalid and unlawful as they discriminate against her,” CAS said, citing “the Olympic Charter, the World Aquatics Constitution, and Swiss law including the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”

Thomas argued “such discrimination cannot be justified as necessary, reasonable, or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting objective,” the court said.

CAS cases are typically heard by three judges – selected each by the rival parties and the court itself – who could yet decline jurisdiction.

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AP Paris Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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