British cycling bans transgender competitors as policy is 'unfair on women riders'

8 April 2022, 12:30 | Updated: 8 April 2022, 15:29

Emily Bridges is at the centre of cycling's trans row
Emily Bridges is at the centre of cycling's trans row. Picture: Getty

By Stephen Rigley

British cycling authorities banned transgender riders from racing as it launched a review of current policy that it says is "unfair on all women riders."

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The move comes days after Boris Johnson waded into the trans debate saying "biological men should not be competing in female sporting events."

In a statement, British Cycling said the current policy - which allows trans women to compete in female races if their testosterone levels are below five nanomoles per litre for a period of 12 months - is "unfair on all women riders", and said a full review would take place in the coming weeks.

"We understand there are concerns regarding the extent to which our current policy appropriately reflects the Sports Councils' Equality Group guidance," the statement added.

The body said it will consult "women and the transgender and non-binary communities, as we strive to provide all within our sport with the clarity and understanding they deserve."

The row erupted after trans cyclist Emily Bridges was cleared to compete by British Cycling after reducing her testosterone to the required levels but was then blocked by the UCI, whose guidelines allow them six weeks to convene an expert panel to review a case.

Shortly after British Cycling's statement, Bridge's mother Sandy Sullivan vowed to take "appropriate action" and claiming that Emily had been "dumped" in her email inbox.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson then entered the transgender debate on Wednesday when he said: 'I don't think that biological men should men be competing in female sporting events.'

Despite the MP's intervention, UK Sport — the body responsible for distributing public money — insist they would happily hand her Lottery funding if she is deemed eligible to ride by cycling's world governing body and is good enough to compete for Great Britain.

"We will support every or any athlete who a sport or governing body has deemed to have future potential and is eligible to compete,"

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Bridges previously received funding of at least £8,000 when she was on British Cycling's senior academy as a male rider named Zach as recently as 2020.

After beginning hormone therapy last year, she now wants to compete in women's events but was blocked last week by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), who have convened an expert panel to review her case ahead of a decision next month.

British Cycling, who cleared Bridges to ride before the UCI's intervention, said at the weekend they would consider selecting the 21-year-old in future teams if she was eligible, including for the Paris Olympics in 2024.