Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies noted in a column published Saturday at Newsweek that she is not at all a supporter of trans women competing in all-female athletic events as she recounted her own experiences with a similar situation.
Davies noted that ahead of her competition in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, then the de facto capital of the Russian-led Soviet Union, she would train for six hours a day, six days a week and that her parents made huge financial sacrifices to be able to pay for her to pursue her dream of Olympic Gold.
“The stadium was packed full of 10,000 people. They were predominantly Russian,” she wrote. “I was the only non-Communist in the swimming final. Everyone else was Russian, Polish or East German. So everybody was cheering like crazy until they got to my lane and then they all went quiet—apart from my dad, who was cheering as loudly as he possibly could. I was just 17 years old.”
She went on to explain that no matter how hard she had trained, she knew before her event even began there was no way she would win, even though there was a great deal of pressure on her from her country.
“I knew I had no chance at a Gold medal. I was competing against Petra Schneider, one of the swimmers from what was then East Germany,” Davies explained. “I had known her for many years and had raced against her at the European Championships. I knew there was no way I was going to beat someone who was swimming 10 seconds faster than me. It wouldn’t have been possible.
“The East German women had been doped with testosterone and put through male puberty. They looked and sounded like men; they had male physiques, male voices, they even had Adam’s apples,” she continued.
“This gave them about a 9 percent advantage; which is massive in swimming. We win races by a quarter of a percent. At the Moscow Olympics, they won 90 percent of women’s medals in the swimming pool. They took first, second and third in pretty much every event,” Davies added.
The former Olympic competitor went on to speculate that every other female athlete and others involved in the Games at the time knew what the East Germans were doing but did not do anything about it, going on to note that the outcomes literally affected lives.
“I had friends on my team who came fourth—behind three East Germans—and no-one remembers who they are. They would have been Olympic champions. Their whole lives would have been different,” she wrote.
A similar situation is now occurring in women’s sports, especially her event.
Davies said that prior to 2015, “you had to have had surgery and to have been living as a woman for a very long time to compete.” But now, competitors who went through puberty as males are being “shoehorned” into all-female sporting events, adding that she is “vocal” about the issue because she doesn’t want today’s female athletes to go through what she and her friends did: Knowing before events begin they are at a huge disadvantage.
So, four years ago I sent a letter with 60 of my friends to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), asking them to do the science before they changed the rules. The science shows that you cannot remove male puberty advantage, so I feel what you’re asking every female in the world to do is to give up their right to play sport. Since sending the letter, I’ve been constantly trying to get that information out there.
On June 19, FINA made the decision that transgender women cannot compete against women in swimming. It has been a long time coming. When I heard that, I was very tearful. It was such a relief.
But it, too, has come with a price. Davies says that charities she has worked with for decades have dropped her along with agents “I’ve worked for 30 or 40 years that don’t use me anymore.”
She said that a lot of female athletes have reached out to her and said they support what she’s doing but have had to do so privately because they fear trans activists who will get them canceled from their sports.
“If my 15-year-old son had gone through male puberty and he decided to transition, I would 100 percent support him if that’s what he wants to do, but I would not support him wanting to go into women’s races. But my son would not want to go into women’s races because he understands biology and he knows that he has an advantage. All of my children have been brought up to believe in fair sport,” she added.
“It’s important that we find ways that trans people can be included in sport, whether that’s turning the men’s category into an Open category, having a third category or supporting the trans community to create their own Pride games. I don’t know what the answer is; I’m not professing to have all the answers. All I’m professing to stand up for is for fair sport for females,” she added.