Svetlana Romashina said swimming authorities FINA made the right call by banning trans athletes from female events
International swimming federation FINA made the right decision by banning transgender swimmers from female events, according to Russian seven-time Olympic champion Svetlana Romashina.
FINA announced in June that it would work on a new "open competition category," but that any athletes who have not transitioned before the age of 12 would be barred from female events.
The step came amid a scandal surrounding trans participation in sport and fueled by the likes of swimmer Lia Thomas, who set record times in US women's college competitions after formerly competing as a man.
Romashina, who is the most decorated synchronized swimmer of all time, backed FINA over its stance.
"FINA has decided on a separate category in such cases. I think this is absolutely the right decision," Romashina, 32, told the media on a visit to Kazan, according to Match TV.
"We must adhere to the original rules, the original rules of nature... I think that girls should compete with girls," added the swimming icon.
Fellow Olympic champion Vlada Chigireva echoed those sentiments, saying: "In any case, FINA has already divided the participants into subgroups by this decision.
"For the rest, let's wait for a case when a person appears who wants to change sex before the age of 12."
FINA noted when announcing its new policy that it was not encouraging youngster to transition before the age of 12.
"They're not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that's ridiculous," said a spokesperson.
"You can't transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn't be encouraged to.
"Basically, what they're saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage."
According to some studies, athletes who have transitioned from male to female retain physical advantages even after around one year of hormone therapy treatment.
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Regarding her own career plans, Romashina is currently weighing up her options after adding two gold medals to her collection at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
The swimmer recently suggested she was more concerned about the younger generation being cleared to compete at the Paris Games in 2024, amid suspensions imposed on Russians at international competitions, including by FINA.