Do you think this is an unfair situation for Women Athletes? | MDB files

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In Melbourne the British contingent of seven entrants into the singles draws at the Australian Open is down to just Dan Evans who plays his third round match this weekend.
After his exit, Andy Murray declared that making it through only to the second round of slams “is not something I find particularly motivating.”

Emma Raducanu had to struggled through painful blisters in her second round defeat and the number 12 seed Cameron Norrie was unable to continue his stellar form from 2021 and was a first round casualty. There are better hopes in the doubles and wheelchair events.
Closer to home, there is a player from Mallorca that the islanders can get behind. Watch out for Rafa Nadal. Who knows, he might even win it.

Imagine if a young Nadal was Mallorca’s best female tennis player and on her way to Gran Slam success and creating a unique legacy for Balearic and Spanish tennis. A young Conchita Martinez before she won Wimbeldon, for example, or local swimmer Melanie Costa a world silver medallist in the 200m freestyle, or her Catalan compatriot Mireia Belmonte, Spain’s first ever women’s Olympic swimming champion in 2016, and who was a four-time world gold medallist two years earlier.

Now consider that 12 months before your greatest achievement, you find out that a male athlete has transitioned to female, has followed all the rules set by the governing bodies, has taken testosterone suppression therapy for a year or more, and takes your place at the summit.

This is the scenario playing out right now in the United States with a college swimmer at Penn State.

Lia Thomas was born male, swam through to college and competed for the men’s team there until starting her transition to female in 2019.

The collegiate swimming season was cancelled last year, so this current year is her first season competing as a woman, and she has set the fastest times of the season so far.

It is possible that Thomas will win the NCAA collegiate championships in March in record times, and it is also possible that she, or other trans athletes in the future, will set world records and win Olympic medals. The bell was rung on this issue at the Tokyo Olympics when New Zealand weight lifter Laurel Hubbard made history by becoming the first trans athlete to compete at the Olympic level. The issue sets inclusivity, discrimination and transphobia against fairness.

The debate is not against Lia Thomas herself. Her team mates and competitors want her to live her life as she chooses and support her doing so.

In almost all walks of life, inclusivity and anti-discrimination are the dominant forces to enable trans women and men to live happy, successful and fulfilled lives. The anomaly is sport and ensuring women compete on a level playing field.

Sport of course is not fair and never has been. Your size, other genetic material and country of birth will all have a direct impact on who wins in sport. The debate is taken up by advocates of women’s rights against the sports federations and the International Olympic Committee. They say the frameworks are not set correctly for sport. The federations turn to the IOC who say each federation must set their own rules.

The federations then turn to the scientists who say there is not enough data on which to guide decision making.

Even Michael Phelps admitted on CNN this week that he had no idea what would happen or where this was going, only that sport needed a level playing field. Last month Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert said there was “nothing fair” about the current rules.

If you were the swimmer just behind Melanie Costa, had swum with her at club level, attended the Elite sports school on the island EBE, trained at an elite programme in the US or Barcelona, competed with her and against her at European and world level, you may feel aggrieved to be shut out of a place in the Olympic team by a trans swimmer. It would be easier to accept though if you knew the rules were fair. Some athletes are bigger and stronger than others; that’s life.

The issue on fire at the moment is women athletes do not have confidence in the IOC or their sports federations that they are competing on a level playing field.

A generation of women athletes went through this with eastern bloc doping. They don’t want to go through it again with trans athletes.