Female riders 'threatened boycott' if trans cyclist Emily Bridges was allowed to race

30 March 2022, 21:39 | Updated: 31 March 2022, 10:34

Emily Bridges had competed in men's events but would have been allowed in women's races under British guidelines
Emily Bridges had competed in men's events but would have been allowed in women's races under British guidelines. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges has been blocked from competing in an upcoming women's cycling championship as claims emerged there was talk of a boycott by female riders.

British Cycling would have allowed Emily to participate under its guidelines, but the Union Cycliste Internationale [UCI] told British Cycling she could not be involved in Saturday's British National Omnium Championships in Derby.

According to the Guardian, a number of female riders had talked about boycotting the event because they felt Bridges, who was on the Great Britain Academy programme as a male rider until being dropped in 2020, had an unfair advantage over them.

"We have been in close discussions with the UCI regarding Emily's participation this weekend and have also engaged closely with Emily and her family regarding her transition and involvement in elite competitions," British Cycling said in a statement.

Read more: Team GB stars face losing Olympics place as trans cyclist begins racing in female events

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"We acknowledge the decision of the UCI with regards to Emily's participation, however we fully recognise her disappointment with today's decision.

"Transgender and non-binary inclusion is bigger than one race and one athlete – it is a challenge for all elite sports.

"We believe all participants within our sport deserve more clarity and understanding around participation in elite competitions and we will continue to work with the UCI on both Emily's case and the wider situation with regards to this issue."

Former Olympic swimming medallist Sharron Davies described the statement from British Cycling as “a blatant fudge”.

She posted online: "It’s not transphobic to want fair sport, it’s anti female to not!"

Ms Bridges, 21, was set to appear at the championships along with cycling stars like Dame Laura Kenny, the five-time Olympic champion.

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Ms Bridges, who won the men's points race at the British Universities championships in February, started hormone therapy last year.

British Cycling's new regulations say competing cyclists must have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles a litre for 12 months before an event.

Previously, Ms Bridges told Cycling Weekly: "After starting hormone therapy I didn't want to race in the male category any more than I had to – obviously, it sucks, getting dropped, racing as a man when you're not one."

Its decision to allow Ms Bridges to take part caused controversy.

It followed fallout from Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer whose recent victory in a women's race in the US sparked outrage in some quarters, with politicians wading in and some athletes raising worries about physical differences between competitors' bodies.

Others have defended the decision to allow transgender competitors in the gender events they identify with.