Lance Armstrong spoke out about trans athletes – and everyone had the same response

Lance Armstrong spoke out about trans athletes – and everyone had the same response
Lance Armstrong admits doping

Lance Armstrong has been accused of staggering hypocrisy after wading into a public debate about transgender representation in sport.

The disgraced former cyclist, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in 2012 after being found guilty of multiple doping offences, boasted on Twitter that he was “uniquely placed” to speak about divisive subjects.

Announcing the launch of a special series of his podcast ‘The Forward’, he tweeted: “Of all the controversial and polarizing subjects out there today, I'm not sure there are any as heated as the topic of Trans athletes in sport.

“Is there not a world in which one can be supportive of the transgender community and curious about the fairness of Trans athletes in sport yet not be labelled a transphobe or a bigot as we ask questions? Do we yet know the answers? And do we even want to know the answers?

“I do. Hence these conversations… a special series of The Forward, beginning Monday, where I dive into this issue with an open mind in an attempt learn as much as possible from all sides of the debate.”

He ended his thread: “I hope that for those who have been reluctant to have this conversation, this somehow feels safe. Be fearless.”

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His announcement has not gone down well with fellow social media users, countless of whom have picked up on his eyebrow-raising choice of wording.

Here’s what they had to say about his so-called curiosity about the “fairness” of trans sportspeople’s inclusion in competitive events:

The furore comes just weeks after World Athletics (WA) announced a banon transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female category events, following similar codes to those of rugby and swimming.

At the end of March, the organisation’s president, Lord Sebastian Coe, said that the decision was driven by the need to “protect the female category”.

“We cannot in all consciousness leave our transgender regulations as they were,” he said.

Elsewhere, Alun Williams, Professor of Sport and Exercise Genomics at Manchester Metropolitan University, agreed that athletics’ previous approach of allowing transgender women to compete in female events with reduced levels of testosterone did not equate to fairness.

He told the PA news agency: “There are key biological differences that appear predominantly during male puberty due to elevated testosterone while growth is still going on.

“Those differences seem to persist whatever happens for the rest of someone’s life, including if they then lower testosterone down to what is the typical female range.

“The biological effects that are related to sport – like an increase in skeleton size, having larger muscles that are stronger, increase in the size of organs like the heart that help in all sorts of activity – those persist.

“On that basis, the choice for the authorities like World Athletics is to make a decision – do they prioritise fairness or do they prioritise inclusion, but there’s no evidence at the moment that those two can be met at the same time.”

However, critics of a blanket ban argue that not enough research has been done to draw such a conclusion.

Liz Ward, director of programmes at Stonewall, which campaigns for LGBTQ+ rights and equality, said: “It is so disappointing to see World Athletics announce a unilateral ban on trans women in track and field events.

“Their own statement recognises that there are no trans women competing at an international level and that they have no specific evidence to justify the ban.

“It is vital that decisions about trans participation are based on robust evidence, specific to the sport played and the athletes competing at that level of the sport.

“We stand with trans people who now have the door closed on their chance to compete in athletic sports at an international level.”

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