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World track body proposal: No ban on transgender athletes

South Africa's Caster Semenya, an athlete with sex development differences, is a two-time Olympic champion.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Track and field’s governing body is facing renewed criticism for a proposal to allow transgender athletes to continue competing in top female events, although with stricter rules.

World Athletics has sent a proposal for new regulations governing transgender athletes — and the separate issue of athletes with differences in sex development such as two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya — to national track federations for their feedback.

The governing body's “preferred option,” it said in a statement this week, is for transgender athletes and those with sex development differences to still be allowed to compete in female events if they reduce their testosterone levels further, to below 2.5 nanomoles per liter of blood.

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They would have to keep their testosterone below that level for at least two years before being allowed to compete, according to World Athletics' proposal.

Transgender athletes are currently clear to enter elite female events if they have kept their testosterone levels below 5 nanomoles for at least a year. Athletes with sex development differences who also have testosterone levels higher than the typical female range have to be below 5 nanomoles for six months before competing.

Although WA is proposing to tighten its regulations, it had been expected to consider a complete ban for transgender athletes in female events following swimming's decision to do that last year.

World swimming body FINA's decision, which bans transgender athletes who have experienced any part of male puberty from competing against women, was supported at the time by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.