Transgender athletes should not be competing against women, says Olympic legend

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Olympic star Mary Peters, who won gold in the women's pentathlon in 1972, spoke out against transgender athletics in female competition sports.

Belfast Telegraph. Northern Ireland Olympic legend Lady Mary Peters has weighed into the discussion around transgender athletes taking part in competitions against women.

Lady Peters says the inclusion of competitors who have undergone the transition from male to female does not create “an equal playing field”.

The 1972 Munich gold medal winner, who had major heart surgery last year, was speaking in a Sunday Times interview and has become the latest sporting icon to share their opinion on the controversial subject.

In the interview, Lady Peters, who won gold in the women’s pentathlon at the 1972 Olympics, said she did not agree that “people who had changed their gender” and still had high levels of the sex hormone testosterone “could compete on equal terms” with biological women.

The much-loved sporting figure, who celebrated her 80th birthday this year, drew parallels with the sporting world in the 1970s and 1980s, when East German coaches gave testosterone injections and anabolic steroids to female athletes to boost their performance unfairly.

“As a woman you hope that … you can compete on an equal playing field. If a man becomes a woman they still have that testosterone in their body and it is not an equal playing field,” she told the Sunday Times. 

She also recalled “girls who were 100% women who faded from the sport when the femininity test came in. East German coaches were encouraging girls to take drugs because they wanted success”.

Lady Peters, whose charitable trust is continuing to work towards a £1m fundraising target so that young athletes will continue to benefit from the legacy in future years, will also launch her book, Passing the Torch: Sportswomen who Inspire, later this year.

The book will take the format of a collection of interviews with female stars, and Lady Peters said she hoped the stories will encourage more girls to take up sport and teach them perseverance, determination and the joy and camaraderie of taking part in sport.

Her comments follow those made by other sporting legends on the subject of transgender athletes.

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