PRiDE OUT founder Richard Hearne has labelled British Cycling’s backtracking over its agreed and published trans and non-binary inclusion policy “very unfair”.
Having twice (October 2020, January 2022) published participation inclusion requirements, requiring riders to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition, British Cycling then abruptly suspended such policies, announcing a ‘full review’ would take place in the coming weeks.
The suspension came in the aftermath of Emily Bridges’ failed attempt to enter a women’s event at the British National Omnium Championships.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News on Wednesday, PRiDE OUT – an LGBT+ cycle group in Manchester – founder and chairperson Hearne outlined what had gone on.
“So this all started back in October 2020 when British Cycling released their first trans and non-binary inclusion participation policy,” he said.
“That was further reviewed last year, and after an eight-month consultation, it was released again in January of this year.
“I’m not trans, I’m a gay man and a trans ally, and as far as I’m concerned the policy was viewed as a positive thing by the trans and non-binary community.
“Over the last 18 months there’s been two policies by British Cycling, but at the last minute, two days before a race in March/April time, it was pulled by the board of directors at British Cycling.
“Ultimately, trans and non-binary people are a very small percentage of the population, and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] have done 20 years of scientific studies into trans inclusion, and they have a policy that has been adopted by other governing bodies.
“The UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] have a policy on trans inclusion that British Cycling were aligning with.
“That was in place over the last few months. Since January, it was clear trans and non-binary people could participate in cycling, so long as their testosterone levels were suppressed to a certain level.
“But at the last minute, they seemed to ditch that policy, which begs the question: Why?
“It has really created a lot of confusion, anxiety and stress amongst certain parts of the cycling community.
“And it’s just very, very unfair in my opinion.”
Asked what he would like to see happen next, Hearne called for British Cycling to re-instate its previously agreed policy.
“Well we’re calling for the policy that British Cycling first announced in October 2020, and then was reviewed and released again in January 2022, to be reinstated,” Hearne added.
“And to align with the UCI’s policy on trans and non-binary inclusion in cycling.”
British Cycling has issued a statement on the policy suspension.
“When we developed and published our Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy, we did so with the intention of advancing the cause of promoting diversity and inclusion within the sport of cycling.
“Understanding that this is a fast-moving area of sports policy and scientific research, we committed to reviewing our policy annually or more frequently, as required, to reflect emerging circumstances.
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.
British Cycling statement
“Due to the difference in the policies held by British Cycling and the UCI relating to the licensing process, it is currently possible for trans-female athletes to gain eligibility to race domestically while their cases remain pending with the UCI (or indeed in situations where they are deemed ineligible).
“This in turn allows those riders to accrue domestic ranking points which impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented in our sport, but is also unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing.
“We also understand that there are concerns regarding the extent to which our current policy appropriately reflects the Sports Councils’ Equality Group guidance, published in September 2021.
“As a result of this, 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.
“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, commissaires and others that our sport can’t continue without.
“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.”