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Tipsheet

Lia Thomas Will Be Eligible to Compete in Upcoming Ivy League Championships: Report

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

University of Pennsylvania swimmer William “Lia” Thomas, who is a biological male competing on the women’s swim team, will be eligible to compete in the upcoming Ivy League swim championships. 

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Last week, I covered how USA Swimming announced a new policy establishing criteria for biological male athletes who want to compete on a women’s swim team at the elite level. Going forward, a three-person panel of medical experts will determine if the swimmer’s prior physical developments give them a competitive advantage against their “cisgender” female competitors. Additionally, the new policy requires that the swimmer present a concentration of testosterone in their blood that is less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for at least 36 months. 

USA Swimming’s announcement came after the NCAA updated its transgender athlete guidelines allowing the governing body of each sport to decide its own policy. After USA Swimming’s announcement, sixteen unnamed members of the UPenn women’s swim team sent a letter to Ivy League officials asking them not to pursue legal action against the NCAA’s policy, which could bar Thomas from competing. Thomas competed on the UPenn men’s swim team for three years and reportedly began transitioning “late spring of 2019.”

According to Swimming World Magazine, Ivy League officials confirmed in an email on Monday that Thomas will be eligible to compete at the Ivy League Championships. 

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“The recent rule changes do not impact Lia’s eligibility for this month’s Ivy League Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships as the effective date for this unprecedented midseason NCAA policy change begins with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships,” an Ivy League spokesperson said in an email to Swimming World.

The swim meet is scheduled for Feb. 16 through Feb. 19 at Harvard University.

Last month, in an interview with The Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity, a UPenn female swimmer said that Thomas “compares herself to Jackie Robinson” and “mocks” competing on the women’s team.

Last fall, Thomas made headlines after breaking two national women’s records at a swim competition. In the 1,650-yard freestyle, the runner-up finished 38 seconds behind Thomas.

“It’s been super draining and frustrating,” the anonymous female swimmer added, "because no one seems to care about the actual women.”

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