EUGENE, Ore. — Transgender runner CeCe Telfer will not be allowed to compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at U.S. Olympic trials because Telfer has not met the conditions World Athletics established in its eligibility regulations for certain women’s events.
Telfer competed for the men’s team at Division II Franklin Pierce, took time off, then came back to compete for the women’s team. In 2019, Telfer won the NCAA title.
Telfer was entered in this week’s trials, but World Athletics put out new guidelines in 2019 that closed off international women’s events of between 400 meters and a mile to athletes whose testosterone levels were at 5 nonomoles per liter (nmol/L) or more.
Telfer had been on the list of qualified athletes for Friday’s opening heats. A start list was published Wednesday evening that was missing Telfer’s name. USA Track and Field released a short statement that said athletes must meet the World Athletic requirements to be eligible for trials.
USATF said it had been notified last week that Telfer had not met the conditions and the federation passed along that information to the runner.
On Wednesday, Telfer’s manager, David McFarland, told The Associated Press in a statement that Telfer would respect the decision.
“CeCe has turned her focus towards the future and is continuing to train,” McFarland said. “She will compete on the national — and world — stage again soon.”
To be eligible for an event, an athlete has to stay below the 5 nmol/L threshold for 12 months. In its guidelines, World Athletics says athletes can lower their testosterone level using an oral contraceptive pill, a monthly injection of a hormone therapy drug or by surgery to remove their testicles.
“It is their choice whether or not to have any treatment, and [if so] which treatment to have,” World Athletics said in a Q&A discussing its policy.
In a blog last week in Women’s Health, Telfer said, “I love what I’m doing and I’m getting to live my truth and live my authentic life. I believe that this is my way of being the change that I want to see in the world. And I live by that every single day.”
In its statement, USATF said it “strongly supports inclusivity and providing a clear path to participation in the sport for all, while also maintaining competitive fairness.”
“If CeCe meets the conditions for transgender athlete participation in the future, we wholeheartedly back her participation in international events as a member of Team USATF,” the statement said.