Transgender women unable to compete in British Cycling events as policy suspended

Cyclists ride at sunrise in London, Britain, January 4, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

April 8 (Reuters) - British Cycling suspended its Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy with immediate effect on Friday, denying transgender women the chance to compete in domestic women's races until the policy was reviewed.

British Cycling said it had taken the decision to suspend the policy due to differences between its own policy and that of the world governing body (UCI).

The move comes after transgender cyclist Emily Bridges was told by British Cycling that she was ineligible to compete in the women's race at the National Omnium Championships.

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Bridges had been due to compete in her first women's event in Derby but British Cycling said it had been informed by the UCI that she would not be eligible to participate under their current guidelines. read more

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported that Bridges had been ruled not compliant by the UCI as she was still registered as a male cyclist and could not compete as a woman until her male UCI ID expires. Reuters has contacted the UCI for confirmation.

"It is currently possible for trans-female athletes to gain eligibility to race domestically while their cases remain pending with the UCI (or indeed in situations where they are deemed ineligible)," British Cycling said in a statement.

"(this allows riders to) accrue domestic ranking points which impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented ... but is also unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing.

"As a result of this, on Wednesday the British Cycling Board of Directors voted in favour of an immediate suspension of the current policy, pending a full review, which will be initiated in the coming weeks."

British Cycling added that it would include women and the transgender and non-binary communities in the review process.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that transgender women should not be competing in female sporting events. read more

"I don't think biological males should be competing in female sporting events. Maybe that's a controversial thing to say, but it just seems to me to be sensible," Johnson said.

In November, the International Olympic Committee said no athlete should be excluded from competition on the grounds of a perceived unfair advantage due to their gender, but stopped short of issuing regulations that define eligibility criteria. read more

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Reporting by Aadi Nair and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis

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