In a notable change in tone, the UCI admitted it had heard the “concerns” of female athletes about unfair competition in the sport, and would be reopening its consultation with a view to reaching a decision in August.
Victory by Killips at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico quickly led to widespread criticism of the UCI’s transgender policy, with the three-time Olympian Inga Thompson accusing it of “killing off women’s cycling”, and Canada’s Olympic cross-country silver medallist, Alison Sydor, saying it was “no different functionally than doping” as Killips had the advantage of going through male puberty.
American rider Killips, who started racing in 2019, was competing within the UCI’s current rules, which allow transgender women to compete in the female category provided they suppress their testosterone levels to 2.5nmol/L for a 24-month period.
In the past year World Athletics and World Swimming have joined World Rugby in banning transgender women from their female categories. All three federations cited multiple scientific papers reporting that transgender women retain significant advantages in strength, power, lung capacity and other indicators of physical performance after transitioning.
In a statement on Thursday, the UCI said its management committee had discussed the issue of transgender participation in elite cycling at a meeting in Sardinia, and had decided to reopen consultation with the athletes and national federations before taking a decision at its next meeting in Glasgow in August.
“The UCI’s objective remains the same: to take into consideration, in the context of the evolution of our society, the desire of transgender athletes to practise cycling,” it said. “The UCI also hears the voices of female athletes and their concerns about an equal playing field for competitors, and will take into account all elements, including the evolution of scientific knowledge.”
That was a notable shift in tone, given that on Tuesday the UCI had defended its current rules and pointed out that transgender athletes may wish to compete in accordance with their gender identity.
Killips’s joy at Sunday’s victory was evident in an interview with Cycling News. “It’s exciting,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m over the moon about it. The win was incredible, and we were all so happy.”