Transgender athlete Rachel McKinnon has set a world record time in sprint cycling, opening up the debate once again about gender diversity in sport.
The Canadian, 37, set the record during qualifying in her defence of her sprint title at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester on Friday.
McKinnon won her qualifying race in 11.649 seconds – a record in the female 35-39 sprint category – with American Dawn Orwick second in 12.063.
She went on to win the final on Saturday.
However, some notable female athletes have said transgender athletes should not compete in female competitions, claiming women who were born biological males have a competitive advantage in some sport, calling for more research into the issue.
The win also sparked huge debate on social media, with one person tweeting: “Stop cheating at women’s sports . you have a man’s biology. f*** off.”
Another accused McKinnon of “using liberal attitudes to cheat”.
Ex-swimmer Sharron Davies said it will take female athletes “being thrown under the bus” at Tokyo 2020 before changes are made to transgender rules.
McKinnon, a prominent figure in the trans rights movement, has defended her right to compete, but said: “I’ve thought about giving up about half a dozen times a year at least.
“It’s so stressful to even show up for me given the sort of attention I get.
“Every athlete has physical advantages and we’re all trying to exploit them. So to single out a trans woman, when I lose most of my races, is a little unfair.”
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Former British Masters champion Victoria Hood, who competes in the same category as McKinnon but is currently injured, said other riders “sacrificed” the opportunity to compete at the World Championships because “they don’t want to compete” against McKinnon, adding: “The science is there. The science is clear – it tells us that trans women have an advantage.
“The world record has just been beaten today by somebody born male, who now identifies as female, and the gap between them and the next born female competitor was quite a lot.
“It is a human right to participate in sport. I don’t think it’s a human right to identify into whichever category you choose.”
Earlier this week, athletics’ governing body the IAAF said trans female athletes must lower their levels of testosterone to compete in women’s categories.
But Hood called on sports’ governing bodies to “step up”, saying they were “excluding” athletes born female.
She said: “If people want to push this through some misguided idea that they are being inclusive, it is not inclusive. It is excluding women and girls from their own category. It’s not fair.
“The IOC need to make fair policies that are based on the science that we have, because if they can’t then they are not fit for purpose.
“They are washing their hands of it and it is becoming more political than it is about science and biology.”