Team GB’s Olympic cycling chief signs a letter calling to STOP transgender riders such as Emma Bridges from competing in women’s events
- Sara Symington is one of the most senior figures involved in British cycling
- She is part of an alliance of 76 women to write to cycling’s governing body, the UCI, criticising their current transgender policy
- The group say the UCI should ‘rescind’ the rule that allows trans riders to compete against women
The head of Great Britain’s Olympic cycling programme has signed a letter calling for a rule change that would stop transgender rider Emma Bridges racing in women’s events.
Sara Symington, one of British Cycling’s most senior figures, is part of an alliance of 76 women who have written to world governing body, the UCI, criticising their current transgender policy.
The group say the UCI should ‘rescind’ the rule that allows trans riders to compete against women if they have reduced their testosterone to below five nanomoles per litre for 12 months because it is not ‘fair’.
Symington’s support for a change of policy is significant as Bridges could soon be eligible to ride in the British team she helps select.
Her signature is also controversial because the letter criticises British Cycling, whose own rules on testosterone follow those set by the UCI. The national governing body’s chair, Frank Slevin, and chief executive, Brian Facer, are copied in on the letter.
The UCI and British Cycling’s policies have come under increased scrutiny since it emerged that Bridges, a former national junior champion as a male rider, was due to race against Dame Laura Kenny in last week’s National Omnium Championships.
Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges could soon be eligible to ride in the Great Britain team
But Sara Symington, the head of Great Britain’s Olympic cycling programme, has signed a letter calling for a rule change that would stop transgender rider Bridges racing in women’s events
Bridges was cleared to compete by British Cycling after reducing her testosterone to the required levels but she was then blocked by the UCI, whose guidelines allow them six weeks to convene an expert panel to review a case.
UCI president David Lappartient admitted in an interview last week that their current rules on testosterone were ‘probably not enough’, but it remains to be seen whether Bridges will eventually be deemed eligible to race after the six-week deadline.
In the letter addressed to Lappartient and other UCI chiefs, the group of women – predominantly made up of former elite female cyclists – expressed their ‘deep regret’ about the ‘crisis situation’.
They wrote: ‘Recently female athletes in the UK have shown you that they were willing to boycott their own National Championships to get the UCI and British Cycling to hear their concerns about fairness in sport.
‘That is how seriously female athletes are taking this issue and we greatly respect what our sisters were willing to sacrifice to have their voices heard. We are saddened that this should ever have been necessary.
‘We believe that rule 13.5.015 does not guarantee female athletes “fair and meaningful” competition as the UCI has promised.
‘We believe that the rule is discriminatory in that it advantages only biological male athletes by providing them greater opportunity to compete and enjoy the rewards of sport at its highest level.
The UCI have blocked 21-year-old Bridges (above) from riding in the elite women’s events after being cleared to compete by British cycling
‘We ask that unless the UCI can provide robust scientific evidence that the rule guarantees fairness for female athletes, that the UCI rescind rule 13.5.015 effective immediately and implement eligibility criteria for the female category that is based on female biological characteristics.’
Symington was a cyclist for Great Britain at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and was performance director at England Netball and UK Athletics before returning to British Cycling in January as head of their Olympic and Paralympic programmes.
Other British signatories of the letter include Yvonne McGregor, who won a track cycling bronze at Sydney 2000, and Mandy Bishop, the 1982 world road race champion.