British Cycling bans trans cyclists from racing as it reviews policy dubbed 'unfair on women'

The ruling has sparked calls for other sports to follow suit

Published

British cycling has banned transgender athletes from competing in national events pending a review of the policy they say is “unfair on all women cyclists".

The suspension of the policy, which was only ratified in January, comes as trans cyclist Emily Bridges was blocked from racing in last weekend’s National Omnium Championships in Derby.

She was initially deemed eligible to race after demonstrating that her testosterone levels had been reduced to the required limits.

But female athletes had been considering a boycott of the Championships if Bridges had been allowed to compete.

British Cycling’s head of Olympic programmes Sara Symington was among co-signers of a letter to the UCI earlier this week.

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges
Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges

It criticised its current policy on transgender inclusion. The letter signatories claimed the UCI’s current rules do not guarantee female athletes fair and meaningful competition.

The announcement also arrives after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that biological males should be barred from female-only sporting events.

Sharron Davies, a prominent figure in the debate, responded to the news on social media.

She said: "Thank u British cycling hopefully the other sports will follow, especially contact sports. Where a serious accident was waiting to happen.

"Open category is fully inclusive, female protects a sex that does not benefit from male physical advantage. Fair Sport for all #sexnotgender."

Sharron Davies responded to British Cycling's statement on social media
Sharron Davies responded to British Cycling's statement on social media

British Cycling’s statement noted concerns regarding the extent to which its policy appropriately reflected the Sports Councils’ Equality Group guidance, published in September 2021.

Among a number of conclusions made by the Group was a proposal that sports that could not ensure physical ‘fairness’, such as contact or combat sports, could introduce an ‘open’ category in addition to male and female ones.

British Cycling acknowledged that differences between its policy and the UCI’s allowed trans athletes to race domestically even if their cases were pending with the UCI, or even if the UCI had ruled them ineligible to compete.

Bridges’ mum Sandy Sullivan tweeted the British Cycling statement and added: “Dumped by email. We’ve just received this in our inbox. We will be making a statement at some point during the next 24 hrs.”

A British Cycling spokesman said today: "On Wednesday 6 April 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.

"While the current policy was created following an extensive external and internal consultation, the review will allow us time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities, as we strive to provide all within our sport with the clarity and understanding they deserve.

"As an organisation we remain committed to ensuring that transgender and non-binary people are welcomed, supported and celebrated in the cycling community, and the inclusion of these groups within non-competitive activities remains unaffected by the suspension.

"We will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our sport remains free of hate, discrimination and abuse in all forms, and that we prioritise the welfare of riders, volunteers, event organisers, commissaires and others that our sport can't continue without."

The statement added: "In the past week we have started in earnest our work to galvanise a coalition of organisations to come together to find a better answer, and have enjoyed productive discussions with national governing bodies and others across sport.

"The challenge is far greater than one event or one sport, and only by working together can we hope to find a timely solution, which achieves fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes."