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Mike's Minute: FINA made the right call over trans athletes

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Jun 2022, 10:30am

Mike's Minute: FINA made the right call over trans athletes

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Jun 2022, 10:30am

I am trying to work out just where the FINA decision around trans athlete participation at elite level fits, as far as far-reaching decisions go.

It would be right up there because the reaction has been extraordinary. Emily Seebohm, an Australian Olympic great, talked of the relief given her and so many of her colleagues have been afraid to speak out.

A sport they have loved and dedicated their lives to upended by something they could never have seen coming. Imagine being afraid to speak out, what does that say about the sport you love?

We have bent over backwards to root out bullying and harassment in sport. But on gender, we were weak and woke.

It is also, it seems, a catalyst decision. A decision that gives other governing bodies permission to be honest. Biology beats gender was one summation. Isn't it amazing how simple the thought process can be when you have perceived clearance to actually act the way so many have clearly wanted to?

But instead, what we have had to this point is a mess of indecision, compromise, and made-up nonsense trying to accommodate everyone and offend no one.

Thanks to FINA and swimming, this might just be the tipping point.

The Conservatives in Britain have been immersed in this debate for a while, so politically it’s a win. The Sports and Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, hopes this encourages other sports to be decisive and act.

New Zealand, who voted at the FINA meeting for the decision, say the science is clear.

The FINA vote got 71 percent support. Why has it taken this long to be this decisive?

Dave Gerrard, who represented us and has been in sport his whole life, a lot of it at the highest level, said the evidence is overwhelming. Yes, it is. And yet look how long it took to work that out.

Look at how we handled the Laurel Hubbard issue. The difference I suspect was Hubbard wasn’t that good, so we hoped we could pretend it wasn’t a problem.

This latest decision from FINA is a result of American Lia Thomas. An unremarkable male swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, but as a female won the NCAA Championship. They couldn’t let this get to the highest of high levels and so they have acted.

Not everyone will be happy. But here is the cold hard truth, most will. Because FINA did what others should have done from the start, the right thing.