Update: On 5 August USA Cycling, responding to a request for comment from road.cc, claimed that Leia Genis was ineligible to compete at last week’s Track National Championships – where she took second place in the women’s individual pursuit before being stripped of her silver medal and removed from competition less than 24 hours later – as she had failed to provide the UCI with the documentation required to race in the Elite Women’s category.
The national governing body pointed out that Genis’ earlier participation in non-elite events fell under USA Cycling’s Policy VII Non-Elite Competition guidelines for transgender athletes, which allows competitors to self-select their gender (according to these guidelines, members are also able to file a grievance “in the event that a question should arise about a member’s eligibility to participate in a manner consistent with their gender”).
However, by upgrading to compete in the elite women’s category, USA Cycling says that Genis then became subject to the policies and regulations of the UCI and International Olympic Committee (IOC).
As noted in the original article below, the UCI’s new rules on transgender cyclists – which came into effect on 1 July – stipulate that athletes transitioning from male to female must demonstrate that their testosterone levels have been below 2.5 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) for 24 months.
According to USA Cycling, Genis did not provide the UCI with the required documentation to upgrade to elite level and, when a review was carried out during last week’s track championships, had not completed the “required steps” to meet the eligibility criteria.
In a statement provided to road.cc, USA Cycling said: “At the 2022 USA Cycling Elite & Junior Track National Championships, a transgender woman, Leia Genis, registered for several Elite Women's events.
“Ms. Genis was made aware of the UCI's Transgender Policy in March 2022 and her responsibilities in complying with this policy. At the time, Ms. Genis was participating in non-elite categories and fell under USA Cycling's Policy VII Non-Elite Competition guidelines.
“Ms. Genis subsequently upgraded but did not provide the UCI with the necessary documents to race in the Elite Women's category.
“When USA Cycling discovered that Ms. Genis was participating in the event, a representative from the organization met with Ms. Genis to review her eligibility in accordance with the UCI’s policy.
“This review revealed that Ms. Genis was ineligible to participate in the championships as she had not completed the required steps to meet the UCI's Athlete Eligibility Regulations. As a result, USA Cycling refunded Ms. Genis’ registration fees, vacated her event results, and removed her from further events at the 2022 USA Cycling Elite & Junior Track National Championships.
“USA Cycling supports transgender athletes' participation in sport and was one of the first national governing bodies to adopt an inclusive transgender athlete policy.”
The original article appears below:
A silver medallist in the women's individual pursuit at last week's USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships has accused the governing body of "transphobia" after being stripped of her medal and removed from competition less than 24 hours later.
Leia Genis finished second in the women's elite individual pursuit, behind Bethany Matsick, at last week's national championships in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. However, the next day both of the bronze medal race participants, Skyler Espinoza and Elizabeth Stevenson, were upgraded to second and third respectively, and Genis removed from the results list.
Writing on Instagram alongside a picture of her standing on the podium next to Matsick and Espinoza, with a silver medal around her neck, Genis said the "transphobia" behind USA Cycling's decision was "so blatant it's almost laughable".
"Being a trans woman in this sport is so incredibly frustrating," Genis said. "Poorly-communicated guidelines, restrictions and requirements that are constantly changing, lack of empathy from USA Cycling, and a peloton full of furtive whispers and sideways glances mean that even showing up to compete is an immense struggle.
"I am obviously heartbroken. I have worked my ass off to be here and I rightfully earned my silver medal. I will continue to train and race but this experience has left me disgusted and abhorred."
Genis also explained the events which saw her pulled from competition ahead of the next day's events.
"I was preparing for the mass-start races, a USA Cycling official informed me that I was no longer allowed to compete and that my place on the IP [individual pursuit] podium was to be revoked on account of my trans identity," Genis continued.
"Six weeks ago I was eligible for competition at UCI C1 and C2 races held at the same velodrome and overseen by the same technical director. Yet six weeks later, now that I am doing well at nationals, I am suddenly ineligible to compete. The transphobia is so blatant it's almost laughable."
Genis also took the opportunity to congratulate Matsick, who set a new track record in qualifying, on her "incredibly fast times".
USA Cycling remained silent on the decision in the days following the championships, with no comment other than to remove mention of Genis from the opening day's results.
While the governing body has since responded to road.cc's request for comment (see update above), questions remain surrounding why Genis, seemingly ineligible to compete under the tightened UCI rules, was allowed to race the event before being told.
From July 1, new UCI rules on transgender female cyclists competing in women's races came into effect, doubling the time an athlete transitioning from male to female needs to wait before being able to compete in women's races to 24 months.
It now stipulates that athletes transitioning from male to female need to have had testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L) for 24 months. Previously, the rules required testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L for 12 months.
According to the athlete's Instagram, Genis began racing last year.
"Unfortunately, not everyone is happy to see a trans person racing," she said at the time.
"Many of which have expressed their disapproval quite loudly. But there have also been many supporters and honestly, I've had so much fun, they couldn't keep me away if they tried."
In March, British-based racer Emily Bridges was barred from making her racing debut as a woman at the National Omnium Championships. British Cycling said that the UCI had intervened to say Bridges "is not eligible to participate in this event".
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.