Biological male cyclist barred from competing in women's championships

The world governing body for cycling has ruled that British biological male cyclist Emily Bridges cannot compete in the upcoming National Omnium Championships.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

The world governing body for cycling has ruled that British biological male cyclist Emily Bridges cannot compete in the upcoming National Omnium Championships.

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) deemed Bridges ineligible to compete, saying that they plan to convene and 'expert panel' in the coming weeks to deliberate before Bridges would be able to compete in the women’s division, according to the Daily Mail.

Bridges has competes in the men’s division as recently as a few weeks ago, and held the UK national junior men’s record over 25 miles.

The cyclist has reportedly been told to wait until the current UCI registration made as a male rider expires, and the Bridges can compete amongst females.

Bridges began hormone therapy last year, and had previously been deemed eligible to compete as a woman under British Cycling's policy after the cyclist lowered her testosterone to the required level.

In a statement released by British Cycling, they said they recognize the "disappointment" the ruling has brought Bridges.

"We acknowledge the decision of the UCI with regards to Emily's participation, however we fully recognise her disappointment with today's decision," they wrote, according to the Daily Mail. "Transgender and non-binary inclusion is bigger than one race and one athlete – it is a challenge for all elite sports."

"We believe all participants within our sport deserve more clarity and understanding around participation in elite competitions and we will continue to work with the UCI on both Emily's case and the wider situation with regards to this issue," they said, announcing their call for a "a coalition to share, learn and understand more about how we can achieve fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes."

Leading up to the championship race, which is schedules to take place on April 1-2, female cyclists threatened to pull out over competing against Bridges.

Speaking with the Daily Mail, Bridges aunt, Helen Bridges, said the UCI’s decision is "unfair" to the transgender athlete.

"It’s a bit of a tough one but I guess it's unfair. It is unfair on Emily but the others obviously think it's unfair on them so it's a very, very difficult situation. Maybe trans athletes should have their own class but I think they should be allowed to do it [compete in women's sports]," she said.

"I really do feel for Emily. There's a lot more to it given the amount of emotions she's been through," she added, saying Bridges had gone through a great deal of "stress."

Former Olympic swimming star Sharron Davies condemned the idea of a biological male competing against women.

"I think the very serious threat of a boycott helped hugely to concentrate their minds and cause intervention, but I'm being positive we are turning a corner. Sport is all about fairness there are ways to have inclusion without sacrificing Women's sport," she said.

"It would not have been fair to ask Laura Kenny and the other women cyclists that Bridges would have come up against to have to race a rival with the advantages of a biological man. No amount of testosterone reduction can mitigate that, but we're being told to turn a blind eye to science and biology, to keep quiet and suck it up," she added.

Davies noted the difference between male and female bodies, and that the changes undergone through puberty in male cannot be overlooked.

"If you look across Olympic sports, and that includes cycling, you are looking at a 10 to 20, even 30 per cent in weight-lifting difference, which is absolutely vast and anyone who has gone through male puberty will not be able to mitigate against all those advantages," she said.

"At the moment we spend millions trying to spot people having the tiniest advantage by taking drugs so that they're cheating, but yet women are supposed to move over so that males are able to come into their sports and just give up their trophies, their wins, their places their scholarships. It just seems so incredibly unfair," she added.

"British Cycling ought to be ashamed of themselves."


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