Lia Thomas Secretly Sues to Overturn Rules for 2024 Olympics
Apparently, it wasn’t enough to steal a girls’ Division I title — now Lia Thomas has his sights on the Olympics. The controversial swimmer, who hasn’t been in the pool competitively since the scandal of 2022, has been outed for secretly suing World Aquatics. His goal? To burn down the fair, biologically-based rules for women’s swimming.
“It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time,” Thomas told “Good Morning America” two years ago, “and I would love to see that through.” According to British outlets, who broke the story, “seeing it through” now means taking away the level playing pool for every legitimate female athlete. The Telegraph, followed by the BBC, both reported that Thomas has hired a renown Canadian law firm, Tyr, to demand the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland erase the new rules that protect women.
Under that policy, World Aquatics voted overwhelmingly to block trans-identifying women from “elite races” if they’ve gone through “any part of the process of male puberty.” Before that, swimmers only had to prove that they’d lowered their testosterone — a benchmark that more and more governing bodies are deciding is not enough. It doesn’t take a scientist to understand that hormones alone can’t compensate for the other advantages that come with having a male body, male bone structure, male oxygen capacity, and so much more.
When Thomas took his case to the tribunal in September, The Telegraph notes, “World Aquatics applied to have it thrown out because [he] had not submitted [himself] to the jurisdiction of USA Swimming.” As others point out, the deadline to enter the Olympic trials is June 4 (two weeks before the event), so Thomas would have to win a string of cases to qualify — an outcome most legal experts agree is unlikely.
Thankfully, World Aquatics seems willing to go to the mat to protect their rules. Executive Director Brent Nowicki was adamant, “The World Aquatics policy on gender inclusion, adopted by World Aquatics in June of 2022, was rigorously developed on the basis of advice from leading medical and legal experts, and in careful consultation with athletes.” If Thomas thinks they’re unfair, that’s his problem, Nowicki implied. “World Aquatics remains confident that its gender inclusion policy represents a fair approach and remains absolutely determined to protect women’s sport.”
Elsewhere in the world, the grassroots alarm over this transgender takeover has reached a boiling point, forcing several international bodies to make radical changes to their rules and safeguard their sports. After initially embracing the trans agenda, cycling, swimming, track and field, weightlifting, and others are racing to tighten their measures. “Heading into 2024,” NBC noted last month, “the pendulum has swung. … [T]here has been a seismic shift in the sporting landscape for trans athletes … with virtually no grey area.”
As far as World Athletics, track and field’s governing board, was concerned, there shouldn’t be any doubt that protecting girls is the right thing to do. “I think that the integrity of women’s sport if we don’t get this right — and actually the future of women’s sport — is very fragile,” President Lord Coe said when their changes were announced.
That’s a stark contrast from U.S. bodies like the NCAA, who still refuse to lift a finger to defend girls’ scholarships, opportunities, competitive equity, and private spaces like locker rooms and showers. At last week’s House hearing, new collegiate boss Charlie Baker finally agreed to meet with activists like Riley Gaines but made no commitment to reconsider the NCAA’s trans-inclusive rules.
Meanwhile, Doreen Denny, senior advisor for Concerned Women for America, made it clear to The Washington Stand, “Lia Thomas has a chance to compete on the international stage alongside other trans-identifying athletes in the ‘open category,’ but has chosen not to. World Aquatics rightfully is protecting the female category of sport from sex discrimination and unfair competition,” she insisted. “Thomas’s frivolous lawsuit simply proves that all Thomas, who is undeniably male, cares about is the glory of standing on a podium in women’s sports.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.