Michael Engleman, the race director for the Tour of the Gila, which came under fire when a transgender cyclist won the overall women’s category, spoke about the controversy Tuesday.
Engleman told The Telegraph that he had come under the ire of the outraged after Austin Killips, a transgender woman, won the final stage race and the event itself marked the first time a transgender woman had won a stage race. of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). .
Engelman revealed that he and his staff have been subjected to threats and violence and he is concerned about how the controversy could affect the sport.
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«This could kill the sport,» he told the outlet.
He added: «I know how hard it is to get people to put money into a women’s team, at any level. And now they’re asking, ‘Is this something I can touch?’ What happens if an athlete says the wrong thing? This is hurting the sport. It’s a reality that someone needs to talk about.»
He said it will be up to the UCI to make a decisive decision on its transgender participation policy. He said he contacted USA Cycling for a statement about Killips’ involvement, but said his request was denied «because it was too superficial to talk about it.»
The UCI, the world governing body for cycling sport, initially defended its participation policy but appeared to change its tune on Thursday, according to The Guardian.
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“The objective of the UCI remains the same: to take into consideration, in the context of the evolution of our society, the desire of transgender athletes to practice cycling,” the organization said. «The UCI also listens to the voices of female athletes and their concerns about a level playing field for female competitors and will take all elements into account, including evolving scientific knowledge.»
The UCI has tightened its rules for transgender runners to compete against biological women in its events. According to Reuters, the organization halved the maximum allowable plasma testosterone level to 2.5 nanomoles per liter and doubled the transition period to 24 months.
Engelman was director of development for USA women’s cycling for six years and is concerned about Killips’ sudden rise in the sport and what it could mean for biological cyclists.
«I’ve worked with some of the best female cyclists in the world and watched them do extraordinary things from the start,» she told The Telegraph. «And here is someone nobody has ever heard of, who in a first UCI stage race [the 2022 Tour of the Gila] comes third. It almost never happens. Austin was also third in a time trial on a non-time trial bike. So, he makes you wonder. I am a performance person. You look at that and you’re like, ‘That’s not right.
Killips dismissed the uproar as «nonsense» in an Instagram post.
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Inga Thompson, a three-time Olympian, called on the cyclists to protest.