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FIFA have confirmed that they are reviewing their transgender eligibility policies after swimming announced new rules to restrict transgender participation in women’s events. The swimming body FINA voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite competitions and create an open category for some events. The new policy states that male-to-female transgender swimmers (transgender women) are eligible to compete in women’s competitions only if “they can establish to FINA’s comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later”.

“FIFA is currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations in consultation with expert stakeholders,” a spokesperson said. “Due to the ongoing nature of the process, FIFA is not in a position to comment on specifics of proposed amendments to the existing regulations. Should FIFA be asked to verify the eligibility of a player before the new regulations will be in place, any such case will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, taking into account FIFA’s clear commitment to respect human rights. Last year, the IOC issued a ‘framework’ on the issue, leaving eligibility decisions up to individual sports bodies, but adding that “until evidence determines otherwise, athletes should not be deemed to have an unfair or disproportionate competitive advantage due to their sex variations, physical appearance and/or transgender status.”

“We see an international federation asserting its primacy in setting rules, regulations and policies that are in the best interest of its sport,” FINA president Sebastian Coe said. “This is as it should be. We have always believed that biology trumps gender and we will continue to review our regulations in line with this. We will follow the science. We continue to study, research and contribute to the growing body of evidence that testosterone is a key determinant in performance, and have scheduled a discussion on our regulations with our council at the end of the year.”

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