Olympic champion Katie Archibald says transgender athletes have been let down by governing bodies

Olympic champion Katie Archibald says transgender athletes have been let down by governing bodies

Archibald, who won the second of her Olympic gold medals in Tokyo last year alongside Dame Laura Kenny in the Madison, said the UCI had "chosen to delay action until it became sadly personal for one rider".

Bridges, 21, was due to compete at the British national omnium championships earlier this month having met British Cycling's eligibility standards, but was blocked by the UCI at the 11th hour before the national governing body announced a review of its policies.

On the eve of the Nations Cup in Glasgow this weekend, Archibald issued a statement which said: "It is my opinion that the international governing bodies of several sports have let down transgender athletes, in particular transgender women, with their inclusion policies.

"These policies have put the athletes, their involvement in sport, and their personal lives under intense scrutiny when all the athletes have done is follow the rules and enter a category they were encouraged to enter. I, too, feel let down by these policies.

"I feel let down by the International Olympic Committee who tell me there should be no assumed advantage for an athlete with a gender identity different to their sex.

"I read this and hear that my world titles, my Olympic medals, and the champions jerseys I have at home, were all won in a category of people who simply don't try as hard as the men. That losing to male androgenisation is not about biology, but mindset. They are wrong.

"The retained advantage of people who have gone through male puberty in strength, stamina, and physique, with or without testosterone suppression, has been well documented.

"Cycling's global governing body, by its president's own admission, knows this. But they chose to delay action until it became sadly personal for one rider. That wasn't fair."

Archibald's comments come after British Cycling suspended its transgender and non-binary participation policy and said it will be performing a 'full review' in the coming weeks.

The issue came to a head when Bridges stated her intent to compete in the British national omnium championships, with British Cycling initially stating that she could do so, only for the UCI to contact them and say that the 21-year-old was not eligible under its current guidelines.

It is understood that although British Cycling accepted she had met the requirements - current transgender regulations require riders to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition - the UCI has not yet granted her switch in licence from male to female category.

"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," a British Cycling statement read.

"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."

Following the decision, Bridges's mum claimed her daughter had been 'dumped by email' while the cyclist herself took to social media and wrote: "Despite the public announcement, I still have little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility under their regulations.

"I am an athlete, and I just want to race competitively again, within the regulations set by British Cycling and UCI after careful consideration of the research around transgender athletes.

"I hope that they will reconsider their decision in line with the regulations. No one should have to choose between being who they are and participating in the sport they love.

"As is no surprise with most of the British media, I've been relentlessly harassed and demonised by those who have a specific agenda to push.

"They attack anything that isn't the norm and print whatever is most likely to result in the highest engagement for their articles and bring in advertising.

"This is without care for the wellbeing of individuals or marginalised groups and others are left to pick up the pieces due to their actions."

The following week, British Cycling confirmed it would suspend its current participation policy and conduct a review.

"On Wednesday 6 April the British Cycling Board of Directors voted in favour of an immediate suspension of the current policy, pending a full review, which will be initiated in the coming weeks," a statement read.

"While the current policy was created following an extensive external and internal consultation, the review will allow us time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities, as we strive to provide all within our sport with the clarity and understanding they deserve.

"As an organisation we remain committed to ensuring that transgender and non-binary people are welcomed, supported and celebrated in the cycling community, and the inclusion of these groups within non-competitive activities remains unaffected by the suspension.

"We will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our sport remains free of hate, discrimination and abuse in all forms, and that we prioritise the welfare of riders, volunteers, event organisers, commissaries and others that our sport can't continue without."

A British Cycling statement continued: "In the past week we have started in earnest our work to galvanise a coalition of organisations to come together to find a better answer, and have enjoyed productive discussions with national governing bodies and others across sport.

"The challenge is far greater than one event or one sport, and only by working together can we hope to find a timely solution, which achieves fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes."

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