Cece Telfer, a transgender woman who won an NCAA Division II championship in 2019, was ruled ineligible Wednesday to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials.
USA Track and Field (USATF) said in a statement Telfer failed to meet the World Athletic requirements to be eligible for trials. She had initially been on the list for Friday’s opening heats but an updated list Wednesday did not include her name.
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World Athletics’ guidelines, released in 2019, stated that female athletes’ testosterone levels were at 5 nanomoles per liter or more were barred from events between distances of 400 meters and a mile. Telfer was readying to compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles at Olympic trials.
USATF said it “strongly supports inclusivity and providing a clear path to participation in the sport for all, while also maintaining competitive fairness.”
“If CeCe meets the conditions for transgender athlete participation in the future, we wholeheartedly back her participation in international events as a member of Team USATF.”
USATF said it was notified last week Telfer did not meet the conditions.
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David McFarland, Telfer’s manager, told the Associated Press his client would respect the decision of the USATF and World Athletics.
“CeCe has turned her focus towards the future and is continuing to train,” he said. “She will compete on the national — and world — stage again soon.”
According to World Athletics’ rules, an athlete must stay below the threshold for 12 months. The organization said transgender female athletes can lower their testosterone level using an oral contraceptive pill, hormone therapy pills or having surgery to remove their testicles.
Telfer won an NCAA title in 2019 as a member of the Franklin Pierce University. She had previously competed for the men’s team, took time off, then competed for the women’s team.
“I love what I’m doing and I’m getting to live my truth and live my authentic life. I believe that this is my way of being the change that I want to see in the world. And I live by that every single day,” she said in a blog post for Women’s Health last week.
Telfer told OutSports in 2019 she had no extra benefit in her races by being transgender. She said her height and the distance between hurdles were part of the disadvantages she faced. She said hormone suppression isn’t helping her either.
“So it’s crazy! I’m the crazy one, to be the weakest female, the weakest link in the chain, to be competing against the top ones. I should be fingered as the stupid one, for wanting to do that in the first place,” she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.