Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas misses out on Olympics after losing legal battle

The ruling was dated on Monday, five days before the US trials meet for the Paris Olympics starts in Indianapolis. Credit: CNN Newsource

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has lost her bid to compete in elite women's races after her attempt to legally challenge rules on trans women's participation was rejected.

World Aquatics banned transgender women who have been through male puberty from competing in women's races in 2022.

She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, claiming the rules were invalid, unlawful, and discriminatory, but judges dismissed her case on Wednesday.

The ruling means she will not be able to compete in the upcoming Olympics.

Lia Thomas swam for the Pennsylvanian men's team before beginning hormone replacement therapy in 2019.

She called the decision "deeply disappointing", and said: "Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities.”

The American swimmer previously finished first in a US national college swimming competition in 2022, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refused to acknowledge her win.

He signed a proclamation to say runner up Emma Weyant was the victor, and criticised the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for permitting Thomas to compete.

World Aquatics argued the case had no basis as she was not a member of the USA Swimming federation when the case was started.

Lia Thomas celebrates senior day with her teammates during a swim meet in Philadelphia in 2022. Credit: AP

She had also not competed in female events for the purpose of qualification or selection for World Aquatics competitions, the organisation claimed.

In the ruling, the CAS said: “The panel concludes that she lacks standing to challenge the policy."

World Aquatics said it welcomed the CAS decision: “We believe it is a major step forward in our efforts to protect women’s sport.”

Responding to the ruling, Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor said: "It is a sad day for sports and for anyone who believes that trans athletes should have the opportunity for their experiences of discrimination to be heard and adjudicated like everyone else."

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