Mercy Muroki: Fairness in women's sport is dead
The scandal of allowing men to compete with women in the name of inclusivity makes every doping scandal in history look like a picnic
Every day on this programme, I deliver a monologue. Sometimes it feels like an address to the nation, a plea to those in power, sometimes a sermon. Sometimes a rant. But my monologue today feels more like an obituary.
Because fairness in women's sport is dead.
And I fear that for that sacred, hard fought-for virtue, there is no resurrection, there is no second coming.
Yesterday, it was revealed that a transgender athlete will be allowed to compete against some of Britains leading women in a national cycling championship. Taking on cycling heroines like five-time Olympic gold medalist Dame Laura Kenny.
Emily Bridges - as this trans athlete wants to be referred to - began hormone therapy last year. Now that Bridges' testosterone levels are deemed low enough, Bridges has been given the green light to compete with women.
Let's put this in perspective. Dame Laura Kenny, who will be competing alongside this trans athlete, is the elite of the elite in women's cycling. In fact, she is the most successful woman in Olympic cycling history. She has won 63 medals in her career, 44 of them gold. She is an inspiration for young girls everywhere.
Bridges, a biologically male, has competed in cycling with men, until now. Has set records amongst men. It is no surprise then that Bridges' record in the British Cycling's senior academy, is a whole two minutes quicker than the female record.
Which makes total sense, because Bridges is biologically male and only started taking testosterone suppressants a mere year ago year.
For Heaven's sake, I know people who have had long Covid longer that this person has supposedly been a woman.
Every sporting organisation holding the position that all men have to do is lower their testosterone and that this levels the playing field is committing the most egregious affront to fairness and justice in sport in this century.
The scandal of allowing men to compete with women in the name of inclusivity makes every doping scandal in history look like a picnic.
The science is clear. One study from last year by Dr Emma Hilton, a developmental biologist and Dr Tommy Lundberg, lecturer in clinical physiology looks at exactly this question. Does suppressing testosterone put male athletes on an even footing or do they maintain competitive advantage?
They conclude that based on the long-scale studies, suppressing testosterone to levels accepted for female competitions leads to very modest decreases in muscular advantage.
In other words – no, it does not make competition fair. That academic study is published in the journal Sports Medicine, for those who want to have a look.
Another 2020 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the leading journal in sports medicine, makes similar findings. It finds that whilst lowering testosterone makes male athletes lose SOME athletic advantage, a considerable advantage still remains even after the 1 year period which is used as the benchmark for inclusion in women's sports.
Look, the clue is in the name. Its 'women's sport', not he-who-feels-like-woman's sport.
So, as we watch the slow death of fairness in women's competition, we lose with it hard-fought-for protections for women and girls in general.
I am a woman, I'm a daughter, I'm a mother to a daughter, I have two sisters, 5 neices. My grandmother, at her ripe old age of 96 is the matriarch of my entire family – she had five daughters herself, my aunties.
Me caring so much about this issue is not about self-indulgent headline snatching, or click-baiting. I care because I care about fairness for the women I love, and indeed all women.
In fact, anyone who cares about justice and fairness for women in their life, about allowing them to achieve, uninterrupted, in their own right as woman - and having their hard work and achievements respected – should care about this scandal.
There is still hope in reviving the common sense, the rationality, the fairness, and the justice for women. But, I have to be honest, the vitals aren't looking good.