Editor of Swimming Magazine Says Trans Swimmer’s Advantage Just Like ‘Doping’

Lia Thomas

The editor of one of the nation’s top swimming magazines says that the advantage a transgender swimmer has in women’s sports is just like the unfair advantage athletes who dope have over opponents.

John Lohn, chief editor of Swimming World, said that transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas — who has been smashing women’s swimming records since “transitioning” to a female this season — has a “clear-cut edge over the biological females.”

“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,” Lohn wrote in an op-ed published on Sunday.

Thomas performed unremarkably for nearly three years in the men’s category on the U Penn team but took a year off before returning this season to compete as a transgender woman on the school’s women’s team. And since joining the team, Thomas has been demolishing one women’s swimming record after another.

Thomas dominated the 500-yard Freestyle, recently setting an Ivy League record with a winning time of 4:34.06 in the finals. Then there was the new program, meet, and pool record set in the 1,650-yard freestyle in which Thomas surged 38 seconds ahead of the event’s second-place winner.

The video reportedly chronicles the 1650 Free swim event in which Thomas set a record as a female swimmer, crushing the competition by an incredible 38 seconds. In that swim meet, Thomas blasted past the competition to win the 500 by 12 seconds and the 200 free by seven seconds. These numbers are enormous, considering wins are usually clocked by less than two or three seconds ahead of the swimmer in second place.


However, these record-smashing performances are alarming as far as Lohn is concerned. The ease with which Thomas is smashing women’s records brings Lohn to feel that the NCAA’s requirements for transgender people are “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,” Lohn continued, “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.”

Lohn insisted that Thomas’ male physique was no different than the advantage that dopers get when they load their systems with performance-enhancing drugs.

“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,” Lohn said.

Lohn praised parents of U Penn students who penned a letter to the NCAA demanding that something is done about the damage Thomas is doing to the integrity of women’s sports.

“Good for speaking out against an injustice,” Lohn insisted of the parents’ letter. “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.”

To date, the NCAA has made no comments about the U Penn parents’ letter, but Lohn pleaded for the organization to do something, adding, “If it doesn’t, the NCAA just doesn’t care.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.


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