Lia Thomas Can't Go to Olympics

Transgender athlete fails in her challenge of World Aquatics rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2024 1:00 AM CDT
Transgender Swimmer Can't Go to Olympics
University of Pennsylvania athlete Lia Thomas prepares for the 500 meter freestyle event at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas failed in her challenge against rules that stop her from competing in elite women's races because judges ruled she did not have standing to bring the case, the AP reports. The development means she won't be able to compete at the Olympics, Fox News reports. The Court of Arbitration for Sport panel of three judges dismissed Thomas' request for arbitration with the World Aquatics governing body in a ruling released Wednesday. World Aquatics banned transgender women who have been through male puberty from competing in women's races. It also created an "open" category for which transgender athletes would be eligible.

Thomas had asked the sports court in Switzerland to overturn the rules approved in 2022 that she said were invalid, unlawful, and discriminatory. Thomas called the CAS' decision "deeply disappointing" in a statement provided by her legal team. "Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities." Thomas said the decision should be viewed as a call to action for trans women to "fight for our dignity and human rights." Athlete Ally and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) both expressed disappointment at the decision.

Thomas swam for the University of Pennsylvania and won an NCAA title in meets that are outside the World Aquatics competitive system, in which she was not registered. The world swim body argued to CAS that Thomas was not a member of its member federation USA Swimming when the legal case was started. She also had not competed in female events "for the purpose of qualification or selection" for World Aquatics competitions, such as the Olympics or world championships. "The panel concludes that she lacks standing to challenge the policy and the operational requirements in the framework of the present proceeding," the court said in its ruling. The CAS judges declined World Aquatics' request for Thomas to pay its legal costs and other expenses incurred in the case.

(More Lia Thomas stories.)

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