Lia Thomas Takes Legal Action in Bid to Compete as a Woman at 2024 Olympics

Emma Grant
Photo Credit: CNN
  • UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has hired lawyers to fight the prohibition on male pubescent athletes competing as women. She wants the policy changed in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
  • In 2022, FINA banned swimmers like Thomas who went through male puberty from competing against women because to performance benefits.
  • Thomas wants to play as a woman in Paris 2024, but experts say the 18-month timeframe makes it nearly impossible to conclude her CAS case and join the U.S. team. Her chances of reversing the decision and securing the Olympics are "impossibly slim."

It is said that transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has hired lawyers to try to overturn a ban that would stop her from participating as a woman at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Thomas, 24, used to play on the men’s team at the University of Pennsylvania before she transitioned. She is working with the Canadian law company Tyr LLP to take her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

While CAS can go against sports rules, experts say it’s unlikely that Thomas’s case will be settled in time for her to make the U.S. women’s swimming team, especially since the Olympics are coming up in 18 months.

In 2022, FINA, the organization that oversees swimming around the world, made it illegal for athletes like Thomas, who went through some or all of male puberty, to compete against women in top swimming events.

Scientists helped FINA come up with the rules, which are meant to protect the right of female athletes to fair competition.

A sports law expert said that Thomas would not be able to change the rules and still make the U.S. national team in time for Paris 2024, even if CAS overturned the rule.

The expert said, “This will be a long legal fight.” “Her chances are so small it’s impossible.”

Thomas wasn’t very good at college swimming against guys before she transitioned in 2019.

She then ruled the NCAA women’s track and field circuit as a senior at UPenn, setting the fastest times and winning a national title for herself.

People talked about whether her success was due to an unfair physiological edge from being a boy going through puberty.

Some people said Thomas’s height, muscle mass, and lung capacity made her unbeatable compared to female champions born at the same time. People who supported her said she followed the NCAA’s rules for transgender athletes.

FINA said that its transgender rules were created by a group of law, scientific, and human rights experts who found that male-bodied athletes perform better than female athletes after puberty.

Athletes can participate in FINA events as the gender they choose as long as they do it before age 12, which is when male puberty usually starts.

FINA said that its policy is meant to protect women’s sports while still allowing transgender athletes to compete.

The governing group has not said anything directly about Thomas’s lawsuit against the rules.

Experts say it would be very hard for Thomas to get FINA to change its rules on transgender athletes in the 18-month window needed to prepare for the Olympics.

In the end, CAS might overturn the rule, which would allow Thomas to participate as a woman in future Olympics.

But it’s possible that her small chances of making it to Paris 2024 have already gone away.

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Emma Grant is a highly regarded legal news expert with a deep understanding of constitutional law and its implications in contemporary society. With her extensive background in legal journalism and analysis, Emma Grant has established herself as a trusted authority on the intersection of law, policy, and society.