Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation recognizing runner-up Emma Weyant as the winner of the top title in US national collegiate swimming – an event in which she lost to transgender athlete Lia Thomas.
She won the women’s 500 meter freestyle in Atlanta.
But on Tuesday, Republican governor DeSantis said the result “undermines the integrity of the contest.”
Thomas, who swims for the University of Pennsylvania, won the title in four minutes and 33.24 seconds in Atlanta.
Weyant, of Sarasota, Florida, who won the individual 400 m silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, finished second in 1.75 seconds.
DeSantis criticized the National Association of College Athletes (NCAA) for allowing Thomas to compete.
“Basically, the NCAA is working to destroy women’s athletics, they’re trying to undermine the integrity of the competition, and they’re crowning someone else as the champion,” he said. women and we think that’s wrong.”
“They’re putting thought ahead of opportunity for female athletes and I think there’s just some people that are afraid to come out and say what they’re doing, but that’s what they’re doing.”
Thomas swam for the Pennsylvanian men’s team for three seasons before starting hormone replacement therapy in the spring of 2019.
Swimming USA updated its policy in February to allow transgender athletes to swim in elite events, along with criteria aimed at reducing any unfair advantage.
The NCAA – the governing body of college-level swimming – ruled it would be wrong to implement the new rules mid-season, thus allowing Thomas to compete.
On Monday, the president of World Athletics Lord Coe issued a warning about the future of women’s sport if sports organizations wrongly regulate transgender athletes.
“I think the integrity of women’s sport if we don’t do it right and indeed the future of women’s sport is very fragile.” Coe said.