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Q&A on Transgender Athletes and USADA

Gloved hand holding a vial in medical setting.USADA has a responsibility to support, educate, and test all athletes regardless of gender. Here, we will address specific processes regarding transgender athletes. Gender refers to how an athlete identifies themselves, which may differ from the biological sex assigned at birth. A transgender athlete is a person whose gender identity differs from the sex that was assigned at birth. 

Does USADA determine competition eligibility for transgender athletes?

USADA is not involved in decisions regarding sport eligibility. Sport eligibility is the responsibility of each sport’s National Governing Body (NGB) and athletes should familiarize themselves with the rules and policies specific to their sport and/or competition.

Does USADA test transgender athletes?

Yes. USADA determines testing plans based on the competitive level of the athlete, test history data, performance, and intelligence. Samples are screened by a WADA-accredited laboratory for substances and methods prohibited under the current WADA Prohibited List, but laboratories are not performing analyses related to confirming an athlete’s gender or for clinical diagnostic reasons.  

Is the testing process different for transgender athletes?

USADA will match the gender of the witnessing sample collection person to the athlete’s declared gender for competition. For example, a transgender male will be assigned a male chaperone to witness their sample collection.

Can transgender athletes use testosterone and compete?

Testosterone is prohibited in sport at all times. Transgender athletes who require testosterone during the transitioning process (when transitioning from female to male) must apply for and be granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in advance of their treatment.

Are there different TUE requirements for transgender athletes?

No. USADA’s TUE Policy is the same for all athletes. In addition, WADA has developed a checklist for TUE applications for transgender athletes.

Will laboratories be able to detect the use of testosterone in a transgender athlete’s sample?

Samples from transgender athletes are tested following the standardized procedures. If a prohibited substance is detected in any sample, USADA is notified by the laboratory and will then check whether a valid TUE is in place for the athlete.

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