Swimming World editor says trans swimmer's advantage same as 'doping'

Clay Travis reacts to transgender swimmer shattering records at University of Pennsylvania

Outkick founder Clay Travis joined ‘Fox & Friends,’ arguing the issue ‘threatens to destroy all of women’s sports.’

The editor-in-chief of one of the most highly read swimming magazines said the University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer who recently broke records in a women’s competition has the same advantages that “doping” provides other athletes. 

“The newest predicament facing the sport is not one of rampant doping, but a complex scenario with an outcome that could be as damning. Yes, we’re discussing the Lia Thomas saga – again. It’s a debate not soon to go away, and with each passing day toward the NCAA Championships in March, the potential of Thomas racing for a Division I crown becomes a more pressing issue,” John Lohn, chief of Swimming World, wrote in an op-ed published in the magazine Sunday. 

Thomas recently dominated a women’s competition at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron, including in the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries and finals. She earned a winning time of 4:34.06 in the finals, which is a new Ivy League record.

She also set a new program, meet and pool record in the 1,650-yard freestyle, finishing more than 38 seconds ahead of the second-place contender. 

Parents who were outraged at the NCAA for allowing University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to compete and dominate in women’s competitions wrote a letter to the college athletics governing body demanding a rule change.
(Penn Athletics)

Thomas is trans and previously competed as a man at Penn for two full seasons, most recently in 2019. NCAA rules dictate that trans players must partake in one year of testosterone suppression before they can compete as women.  

Lohn argued that the NCAA’s requirement is “not nearly stringent enough to create a level playing field between Thomas and the biological females against whom she is racing.” 

“Despite the hormone suppressants she has taken, in accordance with NCAA guidelines, Thomas’ male-puberty advantage has not been rolled back an adequate amount. The fact is, for nearly 20 years, she built muscle and benefited from the testosterone naturally produced by her body. That strength does not disappear overnight, nor with a year’s worth of suppressants. Consequently, Thomas dives into the water with an inherent advantage over those on the surrounding blocks,” he wrote. 

Lohn argued that Thomas’ case is akin to that of female swimmers in the ‘70s and ‘80s – Kornelia Ender, Kristin Otto and Michelle Smith – who have been accused of doping and dominated their competition.  

Lohn pointed out that he is not calling Thomas a “doper” but that her being born male gives her an advantage over biological female competitors.

“What we are stating is this: The effects of being born a biological male, as they relate to the sport of swimming, offer Thomas a clear-cut edge over the biological females against whom she is competing. She is stronger. It is that simple. And this strength is beneficial to her stroke, on turns and to her endurance. Doping has the same effect,” he wrote. 

Thomas’ wins sparked parents at Penn to send a letter to the NCAA earlier this month demanding a rule change for trans athletes.  

“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports. The precedent being set – one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete – is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?” the letter asked.

The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Lohn said it was “good” the parents were speaking out and called on the NCAA to act on the parents’ pleas. 

“Good for speaking out against an injustice. Now, the NCAA needs to act, and it needs to act quickly. This scenario – with the effects of doping – cannot linger. For the good of the sport, and for fairness to those competing as biological women, a ruling must come down soon,” he wrote. 

“If it doesn’t, the NCAA just doesn’t care.”

The NCAA has not yet responded to the letter, according to the Daily Mail. The organization did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Lohn’s op-ed.

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