by WorldTribune Staff, February 10, 2022
A biological male who generated national outrage by crushing the competition and setting records at women’s collegiate swimming meets will be allowed to compete in the NCAA championships next month.
Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania will be eligible to compete in the Division I swimming championships, the NCAA said on Thursday, announcing that transgender athletes will not be required this year to meet the tighter eligibility standards set earlier this month by USA Swimming.
“There will be no changes to the NCAA‘s previously approved testosterone threshold for transgender women to compete at the 2022 women’s swimming and diving championships,” the NCAA said in a statement.
The 22-year-old Thomas, who competed on the Penn men’s team for three years, has turned in some of the nation’s top times this year in the women’s 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyle events. Some believe that if she enters the national championship meet in top form, Thomas could make a run at collegiate records held by Olympic greats Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.
The Division I swimming and diving championships are scheduled for March 16-19 in Atlanta.
The NCAA said last month that it would defer to national sports federations on eligibility standards for transgender competitors. USA Swimming responded on Feb. 2 by issuing tougher standards under which male-to-female swimmers would need to keep their testosterone levels under 5 nanomoles/Liter for at least 36 months before elite competition, a standard that Thomas would be unable to meet, Valerie Richardson noted in a Feb. 10 report for The Washington Times.
The NCAA had required male-born athletes to undergo testosterone suppression for at least a year before competing on the women’s side.
“The subcommittee decided implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships,” said the NCAA.
The NCAA’s decision came the same day that Athlete Ally, an LGBTQ advocacy group, released an open letter signed by more than 300 collegiate athletes urging the NCAA not to adopt the USA Swimming standard before the NCAA finals next month.
“With this letter, we express our support for Lia Thomas, and all transgender college athletes, who deserve to be able to participate in safe and welcoming athletic environments,” said the letter posted Thursday. “We urge you to not allow political pressure to compromise the safety and wellbeing of college athletes everywhere.”
The Ivy League had previously announced that Thomas would be eligible to compete in the league’s championships next week.
The NCAA said that “USA Swimming’s new policy will be part of the subcommittee’s future analysis when recommending additional updates to eligibility requirements for Phase Two (2022-23 academic year) and Phase Three (2023-24 academic year).”