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Michael Phelps slammed for saying Lia Thomas issue is 'complicated': 'Waving white flag'

Lia Thomas, 22, is a transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who has been shattering women’s records at the school
Champion swimmer Michael Phelps has said that sports need a 'level playing field' to be fair (m_phelps00/Instagram and Twitter)
Champion swimmer Michael Phelps has said that sports need a 'level playing field' to be fair (m_phelps00/Instagram and Twitter)

A lot of controversies have surrounded transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in recent times, which champion swimmer Michael Phelps has now described as 'very complicated'. He has also added that sports need a 'level playing field' to be fair. Phelps, a successful Olympian who had bagged 28 medals, compared the issue around Thomas to doping.

Phelps told CNN that something needs to be done about the current NCAA guidelines allowing Thomas to compete with swimmers who were born female. However, he failed to provide a specific idea himself. "I think this leads back to the organizing committees again because it has to be a level playing field. That's something that we all need. Because that's what sports are. For me, I don't know where this is going to go. I don't know what's going to happen," Phelps said. 


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"I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field," Phelps said. "I don't know what it looks like in the future. It's hard. It's very complicated and this is my sport, this has been my sport my whole entire career, and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field."


Lia Thomas, 22, is a transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who has been shattering women’s records at the school. Thomas competed for three years at Penn as a man, Will Thomas, before the transition. At a meet on November 20 last year, Thomas had a 1:43:47 time in the 200-meter freestyle and 4:35:06 in the 500-meter freestyle. These times, which were records for Penn, would have placed Thomas second and third, respectively in the NCAA Women’s Championships. Thomas breaking women’s records has, like always, raised questions about how fair it is when people who are born as men compete as women. There has been a lot of debate surrounding what is fair on the field, the court, the track, and in the pool. 

It is unclear when Thomas transitioned from male to female. However, it is known that she had competed as a man even in November 2019 on the male swim team. As per NCAA rules, at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment is required to be able to compete as a woman.

Social media has slammed Phelps for his comments, claiming that he is simply "waving the white flag". "People have to say it is “complicated” to protect themselves. Waving the white flag so the mob won’t attack," one user wrote. Another commented, "Michael Phelps says swimming issue with man transitioning to woman is complicated Huh? Show me a woman transitioning to man competing in mens competition I say to Phelps if you are going to equivocate + obfuscate don’t bother you’re useless."



"@MichaelPhelps lets uncomplicate the situation eligibility in women’s sports should be based not on the level of testosterone I’d rather one’s DNA which doesn’t change with any amount of synthetic hormones you cannot change in XY into an XX," one user wrote, while another said, "It’s not “complicated” @MichaelPhelps. Humans cannot change sex, testosterone suppression does not mitigate male performance advantage, men and boys must be excluded from the female sports category."



Some users, on the other hand, supported Phelps for his 'rational behavior'. "Good to see @MichaelPhelps engaging in rational behaviour here. Hopefully, he will come out and clearly support female athletes who are being ripped off via gender ideology. Where the hell are you @IanThorpe?" One user wrote. "Thank you @MichaelPhelps for speaking sense here. Thank you @amanpour for amplifying," another user wrote.