Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas lost a legal battle against World Aquatics at the Court for Arbitration of Sport and won’t be eligible to compete at the Summer Olympics in Paris.

According to NBC News, three judges on the court dismissed Thomas’ request for arbitration with the World Aquatics governing body.

“Great news! Lia Thomas won’t be able to compete in women’s category at the Olympics or any other elite competition. He has just lost his legal battle in Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling. This is a victory for women and girls everywhere,” Riley Gaines said.

“The panel concludes that she lacks standing to challenge the policy and the operational requirements in the framework of the present proceeding,” the court ruling said, according to NBC News. 

Per NBC News:

With Wednesday’s ruling in place, she will be unable to participate in this month’s qualifying trials to compete in the Olympics.

Under rules established in 2022, World Aquatics banned transgender women who have been through male puberty from competing in women’s races. It also created an “open” category for which transgender athletes would be eligible.

Thomas had asked the sports court in Switzerland to overturn the rules last year, arguing they were invalid, unlawful and discriminatory. The rules were established several months after Thomas, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania, became the first trans woman to win an NCAA swimming championship in 2022.

“The CAS decision is deeply disappointing,” Thomas said in a statement through her attorney. “Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities.”

From The Guardian:

Thomas had argued that those rules should be declared “invalid and unlawful” as they were contrary to the Olympic charter and the World Aquatics constitution.

However, in a 24-page decision, the court concluded that Thomas was “simply not entitled to engage with eligibility to compete in WA competitions” as someone who was no longer a member of US swimming.

The news was welcomed by World Aquatics, who hailed it as “a major step forward in our efforts to protect women’s sport”.

“World Aquatics is dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes fairness, respect, and equal opportunities for athletes of all genders and we reaffirm this pledge,” it added.

World Aquatics introduced its new rules after Thomas beat Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant by 1.75sec to win NCAA gold in the women’s 500-yard freestyle in 2022.

In a scientific document that informed its decision, it said swimmers such as Thomas retained significant physical advantages – in endurance, power, speed, strength and lung size – from undergoing male puberty, even after reducing their testosterone levels through medication.

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