Mark Davies claimed World Rowing's policy could provide a "threat to hard-fought-for progress in women’s sport" ©Getty Images

British Rowing chair Mark Davies has urged World Rowing to update its policy on the participation of transgender athletes in the sport, claiming it is "less protective of women's sport than some other International Federations".

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) made a notable decision in June to effectively ban transgender athletes from participating in its female competitions if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty, with a new "open" category to be created.

World Rowing allows transgender women to compete in female category events if they have low levels of testosterone for at least 12 months.

Davies, who has chaired the national governing body since April 2018, suggested that World Rowing could take a similar approach to FINA.

"World Rowing is less protective of women’s sport than some other international sports federations like FINA, which has adopted a policy of having open and women’s categories, where open is for anyone who went through male puberty - recognising limiting testosterone levels fails to counteract the lasting impact of that," he told the World Rowing Congress in Prague.

"Might rowing look at its policy out of concern that there is a threat to hard-fought-for progress in women’s sport, and considering following FINA's lead?"

World Rowing President Jean-Christophe Rolland responded that the global governing body keeps its policies under review.

"This is a very complex issue, and we have evolved our rules on the subject," the French official said.

"You have a bye-law, but obviously we are taking into consideration what is going on in the world of sport.

"Our Sports Medicine Commission is constantly working on the subject, and this is a key topic for the future and as needed we will evolve our rules if they do not fit with the knowledge."

World Rowing President Jean-Christophe Rolland said
World Rowing President Jean-Christophe Rolland said "we will evolve our rules if they do not fit with the knowledge" ©Getty Images

FINA's ruling drew praise from opponents to the inclusion of transgender competitors in women's sport, who argue that it promotes fairness of competition.

They insist that transgender women retain significant athletes over female athletes even if they have suppressed testosterone levels.

Critics including LGBTQ+ groups and transgender athlete advocates have argued that FINA's policy is discriminatory.

The International Olympic Committee updated its framework on transgender inclusion in women's sport in November last year, recommending more flexibility for International Federations to set their own policies.

FINA's decision was followed by the International Rugby League banning transgender players from women's competitions until further notice, and announcements from FINA and World Athletics that they would review their eligibility policies.

World Triathlon has introduced more stringent restrictions including a requirement for transgender women to demonstrate low levels of testosterone for two years and four years to have passed since they competed as a male in sport.

Transgender inclusion in women's sport has been a particularly contentious issue in Britain, with former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries calling on national governing bodies to follow FINA's lead after it took its decision.

The British Triathlon Federation has announced that its events will be held under the female and open categories from next year.