Female swimmer DEMANDS apology after being 'forced to undress' with trans teammate

Paula Scanlan/Lia Thomas
Scanlan (inset) had said "men don't belong in any women's sports" in reaction to the news
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 14/06/2024

- 20:29

Paula Scanlan had also stated 'men don't belong in any women's sports' after trans swimmer Lia Thomas was barred from competing at the Paris games

A former teammate of a trans swimmer who was controversially allowed to compete against "cisgender" women has called for an apology after being forced to "undress with him 18 times a week".

Paula Scanlan, who swam alongside trans athlete Lia Thomas at the University of Pennsylvania, made the demands in reaction to the news that Thomas had been barred from competing at this summer's Olympic Games.

Thomas, now 25, had become the first transgender NCAA champion in Division I history - but shortly afterwards, World Aquatics (then called Fina) voted to crack down on the participation of trans athletes in elite women's sports.

The body implemented a radical rule change preventing anyone who had experienced "any part of male puberty" from competing in women's events.

Lia ThomasLia Thomas dominated the NCAA Swimming Championships in 2022Getty

The swimmer had lodged a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in January in a bid to overturn the ban and compete in elite female races again, claiming the restriction was not only "invalid and unlawful" but also discriminatory.

However, a panel in the sport's top court dismissed the case.

The committee concluded that since Thomas was ineligible to participate in USA Swimming's elite events, the swimmer was "simply not entitled to engage with eligibility to compete" in World Aquatics events.

The decision prevents the American from having any chance of competing at the Paris Olympics, which kick off on July 26 - and for which the American swimming trials begin on Saturday.


Paula Scanlan/Lia Thomas

Scanlan (inset) had said "men don't belong in any women's sports" in reaction to the news


Scanlan had hailed the decision when it was announced and took to social media to say: "Good. This shouldn't have even been a case. Men don't belong in any women's sports."

Then in a later message, reacting to a New York Post headline on the news, Scanlan said: "Okay, but is anyone going to apologise for forcing us to undress with him 18 times a week?"

Her online outbursts are the latest example of some of the enmity demonstrated by Thomas's former teammates.

Other NCAA athletes had lost out on medals thanks to the trans swimmer's participation; in one instance, female swimmer Riley Gaines had come joint-fifth with Thomas in a 200-yard final race, but the latter was awarded the trophy.

Lia Thomas

Riley Gaines also came out in support of the CAS ruling


Some student swimmers had even filed legal action against the NCAA itself.

Earlier this year, 16 ex-college athletes accused the body of violating Title IX - a federal statute which guarantees equal opportunity for men and women in college sports and education.

Another of that group of 16, Riley Gaines, also came out in support of the CAS ruling, calling it a "victory for women and girls everywhere".

The NCAA says: "College sports are the premier stage for women's sports in America, and while the NCAA does not comment on pending litigation, the Association and its members will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women’s sports and ensure fair competition in all NCAA championships."

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