Former Olympians, swimmers send letter of concern to NCAA after Lia Thomas debacle

In the picture on the right Thomas is accompanied by Isaac Henig, Henig is a trans swimmer who is transitioning from female to male but still competing with women thanks to the decision to delay HRT. 

A number of swimmers and former Olympians spoke out regarding the policies that have enabled transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to swim in the women’s division. They sent a letter to the NCAA hoping that the organization will make the competition fair and honor sportsmanship.

Lia Thomas has been at the center of attention since she won two races in the women’s Ivy League. Before the race even started, the 22-year-old had gained a lot of attention and online criticism.

The criticism only got worse after Thomas won the 500m freestyle race and became the first trans woman to win an NCAA title in the women’s division. Many athletes condemned the NCAA for outdated policies that allowed for an individual who retains the male genitalia and gonads to compete with women. As of right now, NCAA slightly adjusted the guidelines. This year Thomas was allowed to compete with women having undergone 12 months of testosterone suppression in addition to having testosterone levels that are 6-7 times bigger than that of an average female.

NCAA had since adjusted the policy to require a longer period of testosterone suppression however their maximum allowed threshold is still way beyond the testosterone you find in an average female.

Last month, a group of University of Arizona swimmers that includes former Olympians sent a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors after Thomas won the 500m NCAA race.

These athletes expressed their disappointment towards the NCAA for failing to honor fairness in sports.

“It’s hard to express the anguish the women’s swim community has experienced this past week watching the 2022 NCAA Swim & Dive Championships. On one hand, we feel we are witnessing irrevocable damage to a sport that has transformed our own identities for the better. On the other, we have reconnected with each other in sisterhood after many busy years living our lives beyond the water’s edge.” The letter wrote.

“Women athletes competing in the meet were forced to swim in unfair direct competition therefore eliminating all integrity of the entire championship meet.”

“We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Title IX this year. From the birth of the NCAA in 1906 until 1972, women had to fight to earn the law that provided equal opportunities for women in sports. It took a male to female transgender person one year to take the women’s swimming national championship title. This is not equality. Women’s standings, titles, records, and scholarships are suddenly at risk again.”

“Therefore, a trans athlete could have been added to any finals heat in addition to the 16 women who qualified without pushing any of the deserving women out of the finals such as VT’s Reka Gyorgy, who personally spoke out about the inequality she was subjected to being shut out of the finals.”

“Opening the door to allowing natural born men to acquire precious, life altering financial aid packages often split up between multiple women per team defeats the very essence of the flagship legislation we are ironically celebrating this very year.” They added.