A group of Olympic and NCAA champions joined together to release a letter demanding action to protect women’s sports in the wake of the major victories of transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.
Nearly 40 retired swimmers, including several Olympians, former NCAA champions, and even a USA Swimming team director, and others all raising serious questions about the NCAA’s rules governing transgender athletes, according to MSN.com.
“It’s hard to express the anguish the women’s swim community has experienced this past week watching the 2022 NCAA Swim & Dive Championships,” the letter states.
Lia Thomas just took first place at the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Women's Swimming & Diving Championships in the 500 freestyle. #SaveWomensSports pic.twitter.com/UWvDQMYHRJ
— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) March 17, 2022
Former NCAA champion Marshi Smith told Fox News that the group decided to speak out now because “individually we felt like we didn’t have a voice. We weren’t being asked our opinions or possible solutions to what was going on.”
“We are asking the NCAA: Do we have a voice?” Smith added.
“Since the adoption of Title nine, young mothers like myself…and most of the women from the University of Arizona on our list have small children, for the first time ever we feel like our daughters may not have the same opportunities for success that we did,” Smith said. “It’s something that has motivated us to speak out publicly.”
Smith won the NCAA 100-meter backstroke championship in 2005 while going to the University of Arizona on a full athletic scholarship.
The NCAA has not replied to the recent open letter, but Smith did receive a response from NCAA President Mark Emmert to a letter she wrote on her own.
In his response, Emmert insisted that the organization is following the science.
Emmert insisted that “the Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.”
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
The president went on, to say, “the NCAA’s current policy is anchored in the evolving science on this issue and in the sport-specific policies of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s national governing bodies.”
Smith, though, discounted the NCAA’s claims of following the science, and said that she does not believe that “a biological man competing in female sports is fair.”
The former NCAA champ added that the women that signed on to her letter represent excellence and experience that the NCAA must heed.
“The experience and wisdom of these women is really unmatched,” she said. “We have determined that the best course of action right now would be to err on the side of fairness across the board and that means that women are not asked to forfeit our titles, records, scholarships at this point.”
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