World Masters Athletics may have to revise its ruling on trans athletes, including Italian sprinter Valentina Petrillo, following last Thursday's announcement by World Athletics ©Twitter

World Masters Athletics, whose indoor championships started today at Torun in Poland, has been placed in a quandary by last World Athletics announcement on transgender athletes.

The World Athletics Council, after taking into account feedback from member federations, coaches and athletes, voted last Thursday (March 23) exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female World Rankings competition from March 31.

The World Masters Indoor Athletics Championships straddle that date, being due to run until Saturday (April 1).

While the event is not under the jurisdiction of World Athletics organisers have previously used the world governing body’s rules to explain the eligibility of trans athletes, including the Italian sprinter Valentina Petrillo, who is expected to challenge in the women’s 200 m and 400 metres races for over-45s, the Daily Telegraph reported.

In a statement on the event website, the organisers say: "It has been brought to the attention of WMA (World Masters Athletics) that there have been some unacceptable comments placed online regarding the participation by transgender athletes.

"Any transgender athlete who has been accepted into the competition has followed and fulfilled the rules and regulations of World Athletics and has been screened and approved by World Athletics and is therefore eligible to compete.

"Any behaviour that involves intimidation, bullying, aggression or any other unacceptable actions, which would not be tolerated in any civilised society, will be dealt with appropriately."

The World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, which opened today in Torun in Poland, could be affected by World Athletics new rule on transgender ©WMA
The World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships, which opened today in Torun in Poland, could be affected by World Athletics new rule on transgender ©WMA

Petrillo, who is visually impaired and also attempted to qualify for the Paralympics, began living as a woman in 2018 and started hormone therapy the following year.

In an interview in 2021 with the BBC, she said: "I respect and comply with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and World Athletics rules, I do the tests. I don't feel like I'm stealing anything from anyone."

World Athletics does not run World Masters events and has confirmed that WMA make their own decisions on adopting its rules and regulations.

But the WMA statement also contained the following: "Please can we remind all participants, as explained some weeks ago, that WMA is obligated to follow the rules and regulations as set out by World Athletics."

Insidethegames has contacted  WMA to clarify its position given the new World Athletics ruling.

It appears possible that the WMA, if their relationship with World Athletics is as they maintain, will feel obliged to undergo a similar process with regard to trans athletes.

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