Female Olympic weightlifter slams transgender athlete


A Belgian weightlifter has blasted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for allowing a transgender female to compete in this summer’s Tokyo Games, saying it “feels like a bad joke.”

Anna Van Bellinghen told the website InsidetheGames Sunday that while she supports the transgender community and does not reject New Zealander Laurel Hubbard’s decision to transition from male to female, “this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”

“Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones,” said Van Bellinghen, who is attempting to qualify for the over-87 kilogram competition. She claimed that Hubbard enjoys the same advantage over the other female competitors as someone on a long-term course of steroids.

“Why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [against women]?” she asked.

Anna Van Bellinghen.
Anna Van Bellinghen says the inclusion of Laurel Hubbard is “unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”
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Belgian athlete Anna Van Bellinghen.
Anna Van Bellinghen claims she supports the transgender community and does not reject Laurel Hubbard’s decision to transition.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Hubbard, born Gavin Hubbard, is considered to be a medal contender in Tokyo, having won a silver medal in the over-90 kilogram competition at the 2017 World Championships and gold in the over-87 kilogram competition at the 2019 Pacific Games.

According to IOC guidelines issued in 2015, transgender athletes can compete in women’s events provided their level of testosterone is below 10 nanomoles per liter at least 12 months prior to their initial competition.

Van Bellinghen said Hubbard’s case shows “the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports, because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.”

Samoan Weightlifting Federation president Jerry Wallwork, whose athletes have competed against Hubbard in regional events since her transition, told InsidetheGames that while he opposed allowing Hubbard to take part in qualification events, the real issue lies with the IOC.

Laurel Hubbard.
Laurel Hubbard is considered to be a medal contender in Tokyo.
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Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard poses during a portrait session.
IOC guidelines state transgender athletes can compete in women’s events provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter.
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“More research should go into this issue, or a separate category must be established for transgender lifters,” he told InsidetheGames. “Especially in contact sports and power sports like weightlifting, there is a disadvantage for female athletes against transgender athletes.”



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