Comm Games Federation rejects ban on transgender lifter

February 26, 2018 GMT

The Commonwealth Games Federation has rejected a call from the Australian Weightlifting Federation to have a New Zealand transgender athlete barred from competing at April’s games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The chief executive of the Australian federation, Mike Keelan, has written to the International Weightlifting Federation calling for New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard to be excluded from the games because she has a physical advantage over “female-born” athletes.

“Ultimately, it is our strong view that weightlifting has always been a gender-specific sport, male and female, not a competition among individuals of various levels of testosterone,” Keelan said.

“In our respectful view, the current criteria and its application has the potential to devalue women’s weightlifting and discourage female-born athletes from pursuing the sport at an elite level in the future.”

Keelan said the IWF “should clarify why the current critera are considered appropriate, adequate and fair.”

In a statement on Monday, the Commonwealth Games Federation’s director of communications and public affairs, Ben Nicholas, said the IWF “has established sport-specific eligibility criteria to be applied for Gold Coast 2018 which allows both male and female athletes that have qualified to compete.

“The gender eligibility criteria currently applied by the IWF does not constructively discriminate against transender athletes and as a consequence there is no moral, ethical or legal basis to prevent transgender athletes from pursuing their sporting ambitions and competing in IWF-sanctioned events,” he said.

Hubbard, 39, competed in elite weightlifting events as a man — Gavin Hubbard — until beginning a transition to female aged 35. In order to compete in the 90kg class, she must meet strict criteria around testosterone levels.

“Laurel has met all the requirements they’ve asked which includes a monthly testosterone test and her testosterone levels are lower than a normal female,” Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand president Garry Marshall said in a statement.