The problem with an issue as divisive as the transgender controversy that is engulfing sport is that all too often those in charge worry far more about not doing the wrong thing than doing the right thing.

How to deal with the trans issue is not, most would agree, a straightforward matter.

Sport, at its best, is both fair and inclusive but the issue over whether or not transwomen should be allowed to contest female categories means only one of these paths can be taken.

When it comes to transwomen – individuals who were born men but have transitioned to women – sport cannot be both implicitly fair as well as inclusive. One must be favoured over the other.

Slowly but surely, sports are making their choice, although many are hesitant to definitively pin their colours to the mast.

Rowing, swimming, rugby union and rugby league have all taken a stance, with the latter three banning anyone who has gone through male puberty from elite competition on the grounds of fairness, whilst in contrast, rowing has some of the more lenient rules allowing transwomen to compete as females.

While these sports were setting their boundaries, many were waiting to see what World Athletics did. Track and field is by far the most prominent Olympic sport and so the governing body’s stance was always going to be held in high regard.

For several years, World Athletics’ president Sebastian Coe has indicated he was favouring only allowing the inclusion of transwomen in female sport if science could prove absolutely that it was fair.

“Biology trumps identity,” Coe said last year. “If we ever get pushed into a corner to that point where we’re making a judgment about fairness or inclusion, I will always fall down on the side of fairness.”

He reiterated that he would “be guided by the science”, before adding: “Fairness is non-negotiable.”

However, the release of World Athletics’ proposed new transgender regulations last week has made for interesting, and surprising, reading.

World Athletics’ “preferred option”, with their definitive ruling to be decided upon in the coming months, is for transwomen to be permitted to compete in the female category, as long as they reduce their amount of blood testosterone from 5 nmol/L to below 2.5 nmol/L and stay below this permitted threshold for two years.

The surprising part, however, is that World Athletics accept this does not level the playing field, given “the preferred option would allow significant (although not full) reduction in anaerobic, aerobic and body composition changes”.

So, the long and short of it is that World Athletics have chosen inclusivity of transwomen over fairness for female athletes.

Scottish hammer champion Kirsty Law and Scotland’s best female sprinter Beth Dobbin have both taken to social media to make known their displeasure over the proposed rule and there are very likely to be more with a similar opinion but put off expressing their views due to the vitriol levelled at almost anyone who doesn’t back complete inclusion.

World Athletics’ stance will, almost certainly, embolden more governing bodies to follow suit, which means female athletes, as considerable scientific evidence shows, will be at a disadvantage. Advantages of being born male are retained long term, regardless of testosterone being suppressed.

Sport, above all else, should be fair, and rulings like the one proposed by World Athletics put this at considerable risk.

World Athletics have been burned legally in recent years over the Caster Semenya case, which saw them wrangle with the South African runner in a prolonged legal case over her naturally-occurring elevated testosterone levels.

But making rules in order to avoid legal repercussions cannot be tolerated, not when the soul of women’s sport is being put at risk.

Coe needs to remember what he said not too long ago about his desire for fairness to be non-negotiable, and rewrite the rulings accordingly.


For all the success Scottish track and field athletes have achieved over the past few years – and there has been a considerable amount – there is an encouraging focus within the sport of how to continue this into the next generation and beyond.

That plan may well be on the verge of suffering a considerable blow if, as has been touted, Grangemouth Stadium is closed.

There are few venues which have played such an integral part in staging events and hosting training sessions as Grangemouth Stadium. However, Falkirk Council said last month they face a £67 million budget gap over

the next four years, and the potential closure of the stadium was one of the money-saving possibilities.

Commonwealth champion Eilish McColgan spoke out last week in support of the campaign to save the facility, but the wider issue is just how serious are councils and the Scottish government in backing sport?

At the time of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, there was much talk of a long-term legacy which would benefit the nation as a whole.

Actions speak far louder than words though and if venues such as Grangemouth Stadium, which are integral to the future of athletics in this country, are closed, then it’s clear that all those promises were hollow.

If the stadium is closed, it will not only be extremely bad news for athletics but for Scottish sport.