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Brave swimmer slams Lia Thomas after tying with her at NCAA champs and large majority totally wrong

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A Kentucky swimmer who tied with transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas for fifth place in an NCAA championship last month has spoken out on behalf fellow female swimmers who believe her participation to be ‘totally wrong.’

Riley Gaines, a University of Kentucky swimmer who has been competing since she was ten, tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championships. 

On Wednesday night, she spoke to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson revealing that many of her fellow competitors have been told ‘that they’re not allowed to talk about it.’

While Thomas was competing within the rules, as she has completed a year of testosterone suppressants per NCAA guidelines, Gaines said that she believes the governing body has handled everything ‘extremely poorly.’

Riley Gaines, a University of Kentucky swimmer, right, tied with Lia Thomas, left, for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championship last month

Riley Gaines, a University of Kentucky swimmer, right, tied with Lia Thomas, left, for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championship last month

Gaines, who has been competing since she was ten, tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championships last month

Gaines, who has been competing since she was ten, tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA championships last month

‘I know just talking to tons, and tons of NCAA swimmers that their athletic directors, their media people and their coaches or other outside influencers have told them “don’t say anything, just avoid the situation, save face a little bit”, but I’m just fortunate enough to have such an amazing support system at the University of Kentucky, whether that be from the athletic director all the way down to my head coach,’ Gaines explained.

‘But just speaking for them it’s just totally wrong. I know I can’t speak for everyone but I’m almost certain that I’m speaking for large majority of female athletes and this is just not okay. And it’s not fair. 

‘We’re dealing with something that’s completely out of our control when we’re racing, biological males whether they have different lung capacities, their height, testosterone levels whether they’ve used testosterone blockers are not. It doesn’t suppress going through puberty as a male. Especially Lia who swam for three years as a male. It’s completely unfair and it’s a matter equity really.’  

Gaines said she believes that Lia's participation is now violating women's rights across the board.'It's just totally wrong. I'm almost certain that I'm speaking for large majority of female athletes and this is just not okay. And it's not fair,' Gaines said

Gaines said she believes that Lia’s participation is now violating women’s rights across the board. ‘It’s just totally wrong. I’m almost certain that I’m speaking for large majority of female athletes and this is just not okay. And it’s not fair,’ Gaines said

Both Gaines and Thomas finished tied for fifth place during NCAA Championships last month

Both Gaines and Thomas finished tied for fifth place during NCAA Championships last month

The University of Kentucky swimmer recounted the moment she realized that even though she and Thomas had tied, the trophy would be given to Thomas, with officials offering to mail Gaines’ personal trophy to her.    

‘Once we finished the race, I went behind the podium to collect my fifth place trophy and was plainly told me that Leah would hold the fifth place trophy and then I could pose with the sixth place one for photos and that a fifth place trophy would be sent in the mail.’

Swimming officials told that the trophies were being ‘given in chronological order,’ which she claims ‘made no sense’.

‘The NCAA official came up to me, and he said, ”Hey, that was a great swim. We only have one fifth place trophy,” which I understood, I get how that works. But he said, ”We’re gonna have to give the trophy to Lia.”‘ 

Carlson asked Gaines if other swimmers present at the trophy presentation ceremony raised any objections.  

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals 

Gaines was told that she would have to hold the 6th place trophy with Thomas holding the fifth place. She was also told that she would have her prize mailed to her in the post

Gaines was told that she would have to hold the 6th place trophy with Thomas holding the fifth place. She was also told that she would have her prize mailed to her in the post

Gaines said she believes that Lia's participation is now violating women's rights across the board

Gaines said she believes that Lia’s participation is now violating women’s rights across the board

‘I was shocked because all the other swimmers who were standing by listening to this were also shocked and standing right next to Lia and she heard it all, so it is kind of just really baffling that this could happen and I know the NCAA wasn’t prepared for situation like this. When they were faced with it they protected such a small minority.’

Thomas, the 6ft-1in first transgender athlete to win the NCAA championship, has sparked controversy for being allowed to compete with cisgender females after having taken a year of testosterone-suppression treatment to meet NCAA requirements.   

However, the rules will more than likely change come next season, where transgender females will have to undergo three years of suppressing testosterone in order to compete against biological women.

The NCAA ruled it would be wrong to implement the new rules mid-season, thus allowing Thomas to complete her final season.

But Gaines said she believes that Lia’s participation is now violating women’s rights across the board.   

Gaines has been competing in swimming competitions since she was ten

Gaines has been competing in swimming competitions since she was ten

Riley Gaines swims the 200 Butterfly prelims at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 19th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia

Riley Gaines swims the 200 Butterfly prelims at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 19th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia

‘I think that there is a definite difference between you and your gender identity and I think that it’s just been totally misconstrued and lost in the past couple of years or so. It’s finally gone to the point where it’s being shown and that it is completely violating women and women’s rights especially in sports.’ 

The NCAA leadership decided in January to amend its policies concerning trans athletes, to allow each sport’s governing body to discern whether an athlete is eligible to compete. 

Under the new guidance, Thomas was allowed by USA Swimming to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment. 

Shortly thereafter, USA Swimming announced a new requirement that transgender women must suppress their testosterone levels for three years before competing – a rule which would have seen Thomas excluded from future female competitions. 

Gaines has been interviewed several times since the NCAA Championship but she is one of few who have made their views so pointedly.  

Thomas, the first transgender athlete to win America's top trophy in university sports, has sparked controversy for being allowed to compete with cisgender females after having taken a year of testosterone-suppression treatment to meet NCAA requirements

Thomas, the first transgender athlete to win America’s top trophy in university sports, has sparked controversy for being allowed to compete with cisgender females after having taken a year of testosterone-suppression treatment to meet NCAA requirements

Under guidance introduced in 2021, Thomas was allowed by USA Swimming to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment

 Under guidance introduced in 2021, Thomas was allowed by USA Swimming to compete as a woman because she has completed a year of hormone treatment

Thomas (pictured in 2016) was a swimmer in high school

Thomas (pictured in 2017) was a swimmer in high school

Thomas previously competed on UPenn men’s swim team for three years as Will before transitioning in 2019 (pictured in 2016 and 2017, respectively)

In March, a Sports Illustrated feature on Thomas revealed that about ‘half the team opposes her competing against other women.’

In the piece published March 3, sources close to Penn’s team said that out of 37 total members of the squad, only six to eight were ‘adamant supporters’ of the senior standout. 

Meanwhile, roughly half of the team, author Robert Sanchez wrote, ‘opposes her competing against other women.’

The remaining members ‘have steered clear of the debate,’ Sanchez noted.

One of the opponents, an unnamed student who spoke to Fox, said that while many support Thomas and her journey as a swimmer and a person, she could not stand by a decision that would put her and other women at a disadvantage.

‘I think if Lia were to break an Olympian’s record, it would cause a lot of damage to the sport and to women, and I think it would cause more people to come out [against the guidelines], people that were afraid to speak before,’ the student said. 

‘I think there’s a way where you can still be your authentic self and be who you are and swim as who you are while not competing against women,’ the student told Fox News. 

‘If you had compassion for your teammates or women at all, you would admit you have an unfair advantage and not do this to women.’

She continued: ‘I don’t understand how we could have been more supportive as a team.

‘But I will not back down, and my teammates and women across the country should not be told to back down from speaking their mind about an issue that so heavily affects them.

‘They’re being discriminated against. 

‘Women’s rights are being violated.’

Thomas has come under national scrutiny, with many protesting decisions that allowed her to compete in women's events. Pictured here is a group that formed outside Georgia Tech on March 17

Thomas has come under national scrutiny, with many protesting decisions that allowed her to compete in women’s events. Pictured here is a group that formed outside Georgia Tech on March 17

‘This whole season has been about her. Everything this whole season has been about Lia, and we’ve all sacrificed everything, our entire livelihoods we’ve sacrificed. How much more should we be willing to sacrifice for Lia?

‘I’m not willing to sacrifice anything else. We’ve already sacrificed team morale and the way that people look at our team success and have the media, to that aspect, thrown in.’   

Thomas, now a senior, entered the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships as the top seed in the 500, after dominating performances at the February Ivy League championships that saw her break six records at the storied competition.

The record-smashing showings saw Thomas come under national scrutiny, with many protesting decisions that allowed her to compete in women’s events.

The swimmer's continued participation in the women's competition has proved deeply divisive, with many - including some of Thomas' teammates - calling for the NCAA to bar transgender athletes from competing in women's competitions

The swimmer’s continued participation in the women’s competition has proved deeply divisive, with many – including some of Thomas’ teammates – calling for the NCAA to bar transgender athletes from competing in women’s competitions

On March 17, protesters in Atlanta flocked outside Georgia Tech University to voice their opposition towards Thomas’ participation in the current NCAA championship.

One of Thomas’ teammates, meanwhile, said that while she’s hopeful for this swim season, she is concerned that Thomas’ continued participation has permanently damaged the sport she loves.

‘This will still haunt us in the fact that pool and team records have been broken unfairly and in an illegitimate way. 

‘We’re supposed to look up at the record board and see Lia’s name and somewhere accept that.’

She then declared: ‘It completely ruins the integrity of the school.’ 

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