A group of female athletes and administrators from across the world has launched a new group solely designed to protect women’s sport from competitors who are “biologically male”. In a statement released on Monday, the International Consortium on Female Sport, that includes representatives from 10 countries including the US, UK and France, said its purpose was to “advocate for the preservation of the female sport category worldwide”. Pointing to the decision by some governing bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, to “open up female sport to male competitors” it argued women should have a voice when it came to the future of their sports. Lia Thomas becomes first transgender woman to win NCAAs Dr Linda Blade, co-founder of the consortium, called the creation of the group “absolutely vital to the preservation of women’s sports”. A former Canadian track and field champion and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All American, Blade has coached hundreds of athletes in 15 sports over 25 years as a sport-performance professional in Edmonton. The group said it wanted international laws “prohibiting sex-based discrimination against biological females”, and called for fairness when it came to deciding who could compete in what category. “While most legal prohibitions against sex discrimination require assimilation and inclusion, sport requires sex segregation for safety and fairness for female athletes — it’s not a new concept,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic champion swimmer, said. The group pointed to the success of 24-year-old transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who won the women’s 500m freestyle at the NCAA Championships last year after beginning her transition in 2018, as evidence of what could happen when “male-born athletes” competed against female ones. “All over the world women are fighting to see fairness for females restored in sport,” said Fiona McAnena, spokesperson of UK-based group, Fair Play for Women, a member group of ICFS. “It makes sense to do this together. The ICFS is a group that will make a difference.” The ICFS said it agreed with “Fundamental Principle 6” of the Olympic Charter, which says there should be no discrimination against female athletes on the basis of sex. “Many female athletes, families, and coaches are sincerely concerned about fairness in women’s sports due to a growing number of biological male athletes entering competitions of all ages across most sports today,” said former NCAA champion swimmer and ICFS member, Marshi Smith, who co-founded the Independent Council on Women’s Sports in 2022 in response to the NCAA swimming scandal. The group said it knew there was pressure to “allow biological male athletes a pathway to compete in female sport”, but said the female category “must consist of biological females only”.