A major controversy has unfolded in the cycling world with Austin Killips, a US professional rider who identifies as female but was born male, winning the UCI-sanctioned women’s Tour of the Gila in New Mexico.
27yo Killips became the first transgender woman to win an official Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) event.
Crowned ‘Queen of the Mountain’, Killips won the polka dot jersey and overall 2023 title of the 36-year-old race.
After starting out in cyclocross in 2019, Killips is rapidly rising through the ranks and is reportedly keen to ride the Tour de France Femmes and Paris 2024 Olympics.
Under considerable backlash, the UCI has defended its rules governing transgender participation in its sport. The organisation currently allows men to compete in female events if they can show reduced testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per litre for the previous two years.
“The UCI acknowledges that transgender athletes may wish to compete in accordance with their gender identity,” the organization said in a statement.
“The UCI rules are based on the latest scientific knowledge and have been applied in a consistent manner. The UCI continues to follow the evolution of scientific findings and may change its rules in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.”
According to Reuters, the organisation halved the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level to 2.5 nanomoles per litre and doubled the transition period to 24 months.
Fellow pro rider Alison Sydor, a Canadian cross country champion and Olympic silver-medal winner, said the current rules on transgender athletes were unfair to female athletes.
Describing the situation as ‘gender doping’, she said ‘going from the Male to Female category (gender doping) is no different functionally than doping’.
Killips responded to criticism by writing to social media ‘After a week of nonsense on the internet, I’m especially thankful to everyone in the peloton and sport who continue to affirm that Twitter is not real life.’