July 5, 2022

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Swimmer Ben says Leah Thomas' participation "destroys the integrity of the sport" ahead of the NCAA Championships

Swimmer Ben says Leah Thomas’ participation “destroys the integrity of the sport” ahead of the NCAA Championships

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Leah Thomas, University of Pennsylvania swimmer, is scheduled to participate in 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, But a female colleague told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview that she feared the impact of her involvement “totally spoiled the integrity of the sport.”

The student, who spoke to Fox News on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, praised her team’s achievements in the Ivy League Championships in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Last month, however, she expressed disappointment with decisions that allowed Thomas, a 22-year-old transgender woman who has competed on the men’s team for three seasons, to compete against the women with a record-breaking performance.

“Not necessarily an achievement in my mind,” she said. “Women’s records are separate from men’s records. It’s a distinct category of its own because no woman is going to be as fast as a man, and it’s just right here — we’re just getting rid of the record’s definition to fit someone else’s agenda of what it should mean to them when in fact it just doesn’t make sense Scientifically do it.

2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships: LIA THOMAS FAVORITE TO WIN 200, 500 FREESTYLE

Leah Thomas of the Pennsylvania State Quakers after winning the 500-meter freestyle event during a three-way meet against the Yale Bulldogs and Dartmouth Big Green at the Shear Bowl on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 8, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Thomas is one of 322 athletes who qualified for the men’s and women’s championships this week after setting several Ivy League records last month with their wins in 100, 200 and 500 freestyle races. She is ready to compete in the same events, and in two of them she took first place in the country.

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“It is still disappointing to learn that the NCAA lacks the courage to do the right thing,” the swimmer said. “I think if Leah breaks the Olympic record, it will cause a lot of damage to the sport and the women, and I think that will lead to more people going out. [against the guidelines]People who were afraid to speak up before.”

The NCAA updated its transgender participation policy in January to comply with guidance from the governing body for each sport. The NCAA announced that its policy will take effect in March, beginning with the Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

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USA Swimming updated its policy shortly after requiring transgender athletes who compete at an elite level to have small levels of testosterone – half of what Thomas was allowed to compete with – for at least 36 months before he became eligible, but the NCAA said weeks later . The Administrative Subcommittee of the Committee on Competitiveness Assurances and Medical Aspects of Sport (CMAS) decided that it would not change the testosterone guidance, stating that “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially harmful effects on schools and student athletes intending to compete in the AAUP Women’s Swimming Championships.” National University Sports 2022″.

“I think there is a way that you can stay true to yourself and be yourself and swim as you are while not competing against women,” the student told Fox News. “If you have empathy for your teammates or women at all, you will admit that you have an unfair advantage and you don’t do it to women.”

The student said the team was supportive of Thomas expressing herself despite what many might think, but she made it clear how she couldn’t stand the decision to compete against other advantaged women.

“I don’t understand how we could have been more supportive as a team,” she said. “But I won’t hold back, nor should my teammates and women across the country be asked to hold back from speaking out on an issue that affects them deeply. They are being discriminated against, and women’s rights are being violated.”

She continued, “This whole season has been about her. This whole season has been about Leah, and we’ve all sacrificed everything, sacrificed all our livelihoods. How much more should we be willing to sacrifice for Leah. I’m not willing to sacrifice anything else. We’ve really sacrificed team morale and the way people view our team’s success and we have the media, for that aspect,” he said.

Leah Thomas of Pennsylvania cheers for her fellow competitors in the 1,650-yard freestyle final at the Harvard Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, Saturday, February 19, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Leah Thomas of Pennsylvania cheers for her fellow competitors in the 1,650-yard freestyle final at the Harvard Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, Saturday, February 19, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

The student said while hoping for the next year, she feared Thomas’ participation had left behind a legacy that was detrimental to the sport.

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“This will continue to haunt us in the fact that our pool and team records were broken unfairly and illegally. We’re supposed to look at the scoreboard and see Lia’s name and accept that somewhere.”

“It completely undermines the safety of the school,” she added.