Katie Archibald lashes out at UCI over transgender debate treatment

Two-time Olympic champion Katie Archibald has expressed concern about transgender athletes competing in women’s sport, but accused the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, of Emily Bridges becoming the center of the debate by failing to intervene earlier.

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 postpone the action until it got sadly personal to one rider”.

Bridges, 21, was set to compete in the British Omnium National Championships earlier this month and met British Cycling’s fitness standards but was blocked by the UCI on the 11th hour before the national governing body announced a review of its policy.

On the eve of the Nations Cup in Glasgow this weekend, Archibald issued a statement saying: “I believe that the international governing bodies of various sports have failed transgender athletes, particularly transgender women, with their integration policies.

“This policy has placed the athletes, their involvement in sports and their personal lives under intense scrutiny, while the athletes have merely followed the rules and entered a category in which they were encouraged to participate.

“I too feel let down by this policy. I feel let down by the International Olympic Committee telling me there should be no supposed advantage to an athlete with a gender identity different from their gender.

“I’m reading this and hearing that my world titles, my Olympic medals and the championship jerseys I have at home have all been won in a category of people who just don’t try as hard as the men. That losing to male androgenization isn’t about biology, it’s about mindset. They’re wrong.

UCI President David Lappartient has expressed concern about the fairness of transgender policies (Tim Goode/PA)

(PA archive)

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

“Cycling’s global governing body knows this, as the president himself admits. But they chose to delay action until it got sadly personal for one rider. That was not fair.”

Bridges, who was in British Cycling’s senior academy in 2019, came out as a transgender woman in October 2020. She continued to compete as a male throughout her transition, winning the men’s points race at the British Universities’ Championships in February.

She had met British Cycling’s earlier requirement – that riders in the female category have a testosterone level of less than five nanomoles per liter for a period of 12 months prior to the race – in time to register for the Championships in Derby , but the UCI granted no redemption license.

Bridges released a statement after that decision saying she had been “bullied and demonized” during the debate, while her mother Sandy took to social media on Wednesday to say that “the damage to Em’s well-being is unforgivable.”

At the time, UCI president David Lappartient told the BBC he was concerned that the rules do not go far enough to protect the integrity of the competition.

A week after the championships, British Cycling suspended its transgender policy and announced a review, saying it “needs to find a better answer”.

Bridges should have competed in Derby against a field that also featured Kenny, although Archibald was out with a back injury at the time.

Archibald said she sent a message to Bridges before making her statement.

“I felt like I couldn’t go on making no comment if it’s an issue that has been brought before us so consistently in the past that I don’t know how long,” Archibald said.

“You can only say so many times, ‘I’m not the person with all the answers. It’s not my job, or that of my teammates, to write policy. We just want to cycle.”

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