Skip to content
kors-logo
Home » Former Olympian Sharron Davies Condemns Transgender Runner Cece Telfer’s Participation In A Women’s NCAA Race as ‘simply Cheating’

Former Olympian Sharron Davies Condemns Transgender Runner Cece Telfer’s Participation In A Women’s NCAA Race as ‘simply Cheating’

Former Olympic medal winner Sharron Davies has hit out at transgender athletes competing in women’s sports after an image of trans athlete Cece Telfer participating in a women’s hurdles race was posted online.  

Telfer, who previously competed as a man, became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) title back in 2019 and was running in the Women’s Invitational 60m hurdles in Boston in February. 

She had qualified for the final of the event, finishing fifth in the preliminary races, but would reportedly go on to disqualify herself during the deciding race. The incendiary issue of transgender participation in female sports has sparked much debate in the past few years, with multiple former athletes, including tennis great Martina Navratilova and two-time Olympic gold medalist Daley Thompson voicing their concerns on the debate.  


Davies, a former swimmer who won silver in the 1980 400m medley at the Moscow Olympics, is another who has been outspoken on trans athletes participating in women’s sports. On Sunday, she reacted to an image of Telfer which was posted online that showed her preparing to run at the event in Boston.

Davies wrote on X (formerly Twitter): ‘Spot the male athlete in the women’s race! It’s simply cheating.’

Former Olympic medal winner Sharron Davies has hit out at a transgender athlete competing in a women’s 60m hurdles event

Images of trans athlete Cece Telfer participating at a women’s event were posted online

👟Male runner, Cece Telfer, displaced collegiate women in the finals of a women’s invitational meet in Boston last month.

Telfer, the first openly trans-identifying male to win a women’s NCAA national title in the 400m hurdles (2019), ran unattached. After bumping a female… pic.twitter.com/LwEC3zqsJT

— ICONS (@icons_women) March 30, 2024 Davies wrote on X (formerly Twitter ): ‘Spot the male athlete in the women’s race! It’s simply cheating.’

A video was also posted of 6-foot-2 Telfer preparing for the race, with the sprinter seen jumping up and down and loosening her joints while stood at the starting blocks.  

Several other X users had also reacted to the images, with ICONS, (the Independent Council on Women’s Sports) also writing: ‘Male runner, Cece Telfer, displaced collegiate women in the finals of a women’s invitational meet in Boston last month. 

‘Telfer, the first openly trans-identifying male to win a women’s NCAA national title in the 400m hurdles (2019), ran unattached. After bumping a female athlete out of the finals, he later disqualified himself during the race.’

Davies has previously faced backlash from transgender activists who have reportedly targeted her children’s school after she spoke out against the participation of trans athletes in women’s sports. 

The 61-year-old, who has attended 12 Olympic games as a competitor and a broadcaster, backed the decision to prevent transgender cyclist Emily Bridges from racing against female riders. Bridges had been at the center of a debate following her attempts to cycle against female athletes last year. 

Speaking to LBC, Davies said: ‘I don’t think Emily Bridges should be allowed to compete with women. I think she should be allowed to compete, absolutely, and it’s really important we make all sport inclusive. 

Telfer previously became the first openly trans athlete to win an NCAA title in 2019

Telfer had competed as part of the Franklin Pierce University’s men’s track and field teams between 2016 and 2017

‘However, having a female category and an open category enables everyone to do sport fairly. What sort of message are we sending to young girls if we say to them that males are due and worthy of fair sport, but females are not worthy of fair sport. What sort of message is that for any young aspiring athlete?’

On March 31, 2023, World Athletics voted to ban transgender women from competing in female international athletic events. 

The decision was made to ‘prioritise fairness and the integrity of the female competition before inclusion.’ The new rules state that transgender athletes are only eligible to compete in the women’s disciplines if they ‘did not experience any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.’

‘The council has agreed to exclude male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty from female world ranking competitions from March 31 this year,’ Lord Sebastian Coe said last year. 

Speaking in an interview with CNN Sport Telfer had admitted that the regulation changes had been ‘devastating’. 

‘The overriding feeling was definitely devastation for myself and for many around the world,’ she said in reaction to the rule changes, which effectively ended any hopes she had of competing at the Paris Olympics later this year.

Telfer, who was previously a student at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, first competed as part of the university’s men’s track and field teams between 2016 and 2017. After beginning transition, she subsequently qualified for the NCAA Women’s Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2019. 

Telfer has insisted that being biologically male doesn’t provide her with an advantage

‘The overriding feeling was definitely devastation for myself and for many around the world,’ Telfer said in reaction to the World Athletics recent ruling on transgender athletes

Cece Telfer is set to release her memoirs later this year. In the book she recounts the inspiring story of how she became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA title

‘I’m still going to keep pursuing my dreams and keep competing and keep running as much as I can, wherever I can, however I can,’ she added. 

‘To throw that all away – my life of training will be for nothing. I’m going to keep doing what I have to do and show my people and society moving forward that I’m never going to give up.’ 

Despite that, Telfer has insisted that being biologically male doesn’t provide her with an advantage. 

‘If anything, me competing against cis gender females is a disadvantage, because my body is going through so many medical implications,’ Telfer said in an interview with ESPN.

‘It’s going through biochemistry changes. … Being on hormone replacement therapy … your muscle is deteriorating, you lose a lot of strength because testosterone is where you get your strength, your agility.’

She also previously insisted that her height is not an advantage when she is competing against smaller female athletes: ‘First of all, my height, how tall I am, is a disadvantage, because the wind is hitting us so hard and the taller you are, the harder you fall, basically. There’s wind resistance.’

It comes after 16 female athletes took legal action against the NCAA in March ‘for allowing transgender women to compete in college sports and to use women’s locker rooms at events’, according to Forbes. 

The suit is reportedly being funded by ICONS, with the organisation’s co-founder Marshi Smith stating in a press release: ‘This lawsuit against the NCAA isn’t just about competition; it’s a fight for the very essence of women’s sports.

‘We’re standing up for justice and the rights of female athletes to compete on a level playing field. It’s about preserving the legacy of Title IX and ensuring that the future of women’s sports is as bright as its past.’

“If anything, me competing against cisgender females is a disadvantage..”@FPUathletics track star CeCe Telfer talks about the physical challenges she faces while competing as a transgender woman. pic.twitter.com/9VhlOVA70V

— Outside the Lines (@OTLonESPN) June 13, 2019 Former Olympian Davies has warned the trans row engulfing sport is ‘unfair’ on aspiring female athletes

World Athletics president Seb Coe (pictured) announced the governing body has voted to exclude transgender athletes from competing in female categories 

Sharron Davies competing in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. She went on to win silver in the women’s 400m individual medley

In 2022, the NCAA implemented a new transgender participation policy that is aligned with those set out by the International Olympic Committee. Under the rules implemented in 2022, transgender athletes were required to have undergone one year of testosterone suppression treatment to be eligible to compete.

The rules have since been updated for the 2023-24 season, with athletes having to meet the above criteria and now need to meet the sport-standard for documented testosterone levels before the season, prior to the first competition in an NCAA event and prior to any competition in the non-championship segment.

Transgender athletes competing in women’s sports continues to be a heavily discussed point, with tennis legend, Navratilova, recently expressing her disapproval of a transgender student winning a high-jump event at a girl’s state championship. 

‘I will keep saying this ad nauseam until the rules change- women’s sports are not a place for failed male athletes.’ the 67-year-old posted on X.

‘I am not the one competing. Most women and girls do not want male bodies competing against them. And this boy just grew long hair- no mitigation. Keep males bodies out of women’s sports- they are free to compete in the men’s category.’

Despite that, Doctors have said transgender youths should be allowed to compete in women’s sports, at school and college level to protect their health.

Why British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies (who competed against East German drugs cheats) is arguing AGAINST trans inclusion in women’s sports Davies claims her father, Terry, was punished because he refused to be silenced about doping

Between 1975 and 1985, Davies missed out on a string of medals when swimming rivals were encouraged to take male sex hormone drugs by the East German Swimming Federation, thousands going on to suffer organ damage or psychological trauma as a consequence. 

Davies says that there are parallels with East German doping and transgender athletes taking hormone-suppression medication in a quest to win medals in women’s categories. The issue reached the mainstream when trans swimmer  LiaThomas thrashed the female competition and broke numerous records in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) championships in Atlanta.

Bridges, who came out as a transgender woman in October 2020, made headlines in March when she was barred from competing against Olympic hero Dame Laura Kenny in the British National Omnium Championships at the 11th hour by world governing body UCI.

In May 2019, Davies, Dame Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe and 60 top-class athletes wrote to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), expressing concerns about the inclusion of male-born athletes in women’s competitions. 

Speaking previously to Sportsmail, Davies said: ‘No one ever wants to ban people from sport. It’s not that I don’t empathise with anyone who is transgender. It must be incredibly difficult.  We are only asking to ban people from categories they don’t belong in. They just have to race where their biology fits the category.

‘We wouldn’t think it was okay to put a 15-year-old in the under-ten race. We wouldn’t think it okay to put a heavyweight boxer in with a bantamweight. That’s the reason why the women’s category was invented in the first place. It’s to give women the opportunity to win otherwise we wouldn’t win anything.

‘Whatever your expression or sexuality, sport is there for you. It just needs to be fair. And fairness needs to come before inclusion.’

Former swimmer Sharron Davies, who has been outspoken on the issue, praised the decision as ‘standing up for female athletes across the world who are worthy of fair sport’

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, said their participation in sport had many benefits including boosting mental health and self-esteem. 

Former Team GB decathlete, Thompson has also spoken out on the issue, claiming that ‘women’s sport could be finished’ if trans athletes are allowed to compete in female events. 

‘For sport to mean anything, it must be fair,’ the Olympian wrote in his column for MailOnline. 

‘I, too, strongly oppose allowing trans women to take part in female sports. I don’t consider this controversial, nor political. It’s about fairness.’ 

He adds: ‘And if trans women are allowed to compete in female categories, then women’s sport isn’t just in trouble – it’s finished.’