Tennis star Martina Navratilova has come out in support of the World Athletics’ decision to ban males from competing against women in women’s sports, going as far as to call it a “step in the right direction.”
Navratilova’s praise of the decision comes a week after the World Athletics Council received flack in the media and online for their decision to bar ‘trans’ athletes in international rankings and events. The head of World Athletics, Lord Sebastian Coe, stated that the new decision by the council will go into effect on March 31st of this year.
Lord Coe said in defense of their ruling that the decision was “guided by the overarching principle, which is to protect the female category.”
“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups,” added Lord Coe, “but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations.”
Lord Coe continued, “We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”
Navratilova said in an op-ed published in The Times UK that this was a “step in the right direction,” and that this was necessary so that the global sports community could finally start “waking up” to what the inclusion of biological male athletes competing against women is doing to the integrity of the women’s category across the board.
She wrote, “The news that World Athletics has excluded transgender women from competing in the female category at international events is certainly a step in the right direction.”
However, she did include some caveats, mentioning that perhaps there should be an open category for ‘trans’ athletes to compete.
She stated, “In the wake of World Athletics’ announcement, I think the best idea would be to have ‘biological female’ and ‘biological girls’ categories and then an ‘open’ category.”
“It would be a category for all-comers: men who identify as me; women who identify as women; women who identify as men; men who identify as women; non-binary — it would be a catch-all,” the 66-year-old former tennis player explained.
Still, Navratilova opposes male athletes who have especially gone through the permanent effects of puberty to compete in women’s sports since “there is no way to erase that physical advantage.”
“If you can breath faster and deeper, that is a massive advantage in top-level sport,” she noted when specifically pointing out the larger lung capacity men have over women.
“We cannot be trying to figure out how to include everyone and still be fair while ignoring biology,” she asserted.
Navratilova also noted, “We don’t really want to encourage anyone to take drugs to qualify, and we certainly don’t want to encourage kids to take puberty-blockers to avoid male puberty, because that is a far-reaching decision we should have nothing to do with.”
She concluded writing, “It seems the world is finally waking up and using common sense. I just hope other sports can quickly follow suit.”
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