Trans cyclist Emily Bridges barred from racing by sport's international governing body

The 21-year-old was set to compete in her first female event on Saturday after undergoing hormone therapy that lowered her testosterone levels

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Trans cyclist Emily Bridges has been banned from competing in the women’s National Omnium Championships this weekend after a ruling by cycling’s world governing body.

The 21-year-old was set to compete in her first female event after undergoing hormone therapy that lowered her testosterone levels and made her eligible to race under the new British Cycling guidelines.

She was due to race against some of the sport's biggest names, including five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny, at Saturday's event in Derby.

British Cycling said in a statement on Wednesday:"We have now been informed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) that under their current guidelines Emily is not eligible to participate in this event."

Emily Bridges
Emily Bridges

The initial decision to allow Ms Bridges to race caused major controversy, with critics claiming trans athletes may have an advantage over their fellow competitors, and British Cycling has called for clarity across all sports surrounding the issue.

GB News revealed yesterday that despite the original declaration that Ms Bridges would be competing, she was still listed as “male” on the British Cycling website.

British Cycling said: "We have been in close discussions with the UCI regarding Emily's participation this weekend and have also engaged closely with Emily and her family regarding her transition and involvement in elite competitions.

"We acknowledge the decision of the UCI with regards to Emily's participation, however we fully recognise her disappointment with today's decision.

"Transgender and non-binary inclusion is bigger than one race and one athlete - it is a challenge for all elite sports."

Jason and Laura Kenny with silver medals at the Tokyo Games
Jason and Laura Kenny with silver medals at the Tokyo Games

It added: “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.”

British Cycling’s regulations, which were updated in January this year, now require riders to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition.

A young healthy male level of testosterone will range from 20 to 30, compared with a female's range of 0.7 and 2.8, according to the NHS.

During therapy, Ms Bridges continued to compete in men’s races.

It was just last month she won the men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships in Glasgow.

She told Cycling Weekly in an interview last month: "After starting hormone therapy I didn't want to race in the male category any more than I had to - obviously, it sucks, getting dropped, racing as a man when you're not one. It was quickly apparent that was the wrong category for me.

"By the summer of 2020 I'd fallen out of love with the sport. I couldn't live like that any more - I couldn't be my true self."

British Cycling’ added in their statement: “We also understand that in elite sports the concept of fairness is essential. For this reason, British Cycling is today calling for 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.

“We know that some of these conversations are happening in pockets of the sporting world, but we want to encourage all sporting governing bodies, athletes, the transgender and non-binary athlete community, the Government and beyond to come together and find a better answer.”