What is Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) going to do about the new FINA transgender policy? The answer seems pretty clear. But more of that later.

Because there are politics involved. For example, what does the money lady think? Is she, that’s Sport New Zealand, Raelene Castle, on board with the new rules? Does she agree that all transgender male to female athletes must start their treatment prior to the age of 12 and show evidence of continuous testosterone levels below 2.5. Does her with the power want every sport in New Zealand following FINA’s lead? It will be interesting to see if SNZ has the courage to do what is right, and what its Constitution demands, or will SNZ fold and go along with whatever Castle tells them to do. We will see.

Oh, and slightly off the subject but how did SNZ vote on the Policy at the FINA Congress that passed the Policy with a 71.5% majority?  

There should be no question about what should be done. The SNZ Constitution is very clear on the subject.

Clause 3 says, “SNZ is bound by and must observe the rules and decisions of FINA”. But you wait and see. If SNZ are told by Castle that FINA’s policy is not to be imported into New Zealand, SNZ could well twist and turn to ride roughshod over the Constitution. Remember three members of the SNZ Board owe their loyalty to Castle. They will say FINA’s Policy is not a rule or a decision – it’s a Policy. Therefore, the document does not necessarily apply – but.

Clause 7 says, “A member is bound by this Constitution and by all rules policies and decisions of SNZ and where applicable those of FINA. Ah, the dreaded “policy” word. I have no idea how anyone could wriggle out of this clause. Every member, that’s us, are constitutionally required to be bound by FINA policy decisions. Goodness knows what we should do if the three Castle sycophants on the SNZ Board tried to prevent the members complying with the sport’s Constitution. It would certainly merit a legal challenge. I guess someone determined not to be bound by the new policy will say it is not “applicable”. It is applicable, of course, but those desperate enough to follow their leader will say anything.

Clause 7.3 says, “Any member disobeying any rule or failing to give effect to any decision of FINA is liable to suspension or expulsion”. And so, there is a constitutional punishment for disobeying the FINA transgender policy. That legal challenge against the Castle gang just got a whole lot stronger.

And so, that’s what the SNZ Constitution has to say about falling into line with FINA policies and decisions. But does the policy itself give us any clues about what FINA expects from its Federation members?

It sure does. In Section G the FINA Policy says,

  • FINA recommends that each Member Federation adopts its own gender policy to determine eligibility to compete in events taking place under its jurisdiction.
  • Member Federations may use this Policy as a guideline for national-level and age-group competition.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, however, any policy applied at a national level will not determine the eligibility of athletes to compete in FINA competitions. Instead, that will be determined exclusively by reference to this Policy.
  • Any policy adopted by a Member Federation remains within the jurisdiction of the Member Federation. Any decision taken by a Member Federation is not considered a FINA decision.
  • FINA recommends that organisers of recreational events consider local circumstances in their determination of whether or not separate sex competition is necessary for them.

There it is. FINA has shown it is not to be messed about. In pretty blunt terms FINA has said, “SNZ can publish their own gender rules based on the FINA Policy. But whatever SNZ decide the rules governing international swimming will be the FINA Policy”.

There we have it. Both the SNZ Constitution and FINA are telling SNZ to adopt the FINA gender Policy. But that direction should not be needed. The right thing to do is to make the sport fair. We can do without a Lia Thomas in our midst. My view is that the SNZ Board members who owe their loyalty to the membership will want to adopt the fair gender rules set out in the FINA Policy.

However, we will not know what the Board members who owe their loyalty to Sport New Zealand think until Castle tells them how to vote. There is an opportunity for SNZ to become the most progressive force on this issue. There is also the possibility it could become the most reactionary.

Which way will it go? Right now, that’s a 50/50 bet. I have no idea.

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