Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Loses Shot at Making Paris Olympics After Failed Legal Battle

Thomas argued that the policy, which prohibits her from competing in elite events, should be considered "invalid and unlawful"

Hunter Martin/Getty   Lia Thomas
Hunter Martin/Getty Lia Thomas

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas was unsuccessful in her attempt to overturn a World Aquatics policy barring her from competing in elite swimming events, according to multiple reports.

In the ruling released on Wednesday, June 12, and obtained by USA Today Sports and The Guardian, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed the 25-year-old swimmer's request for an appeal of the rule set in place in 2022.

The CAS panel said that Thomas, who became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA D1 championship in any sport in 2022, is ineligible to compete in elite competitions hosted by World Aquatics or USA Swimming, barring her from competing in U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials or the Summer Olympics.

According to the Guardian, swimming's governing body introduced a rule prohibiting athletes who have undergone "any part of male puberty" from competing in the female category. The federation instead added an "open" category that would allow transgender athletes to compete.

Related: Swimmer Lia Thomas, Who Is Transgender, Opens Up About Criticism: 'I Transitioned to Be Happy'

Thomas argued that the rule should be made "invalid and unlawful," claiming the policy contradicts the World Aquatics constitution, per the Guardian.

According to both outlets, the panel determined that Thomas did not have standing to challenge the policy and the rule will remain intact.

Hunter Martin/Getty Lia Thomas
Hunter Martin/Getty Lia Thomas

World Aquatics said they are "dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes fairness, respect and equal opportunities for athletes of all genders," according to USA Today.

"Our policies and practices are continuously evaluated to ensure they align with these core values, which led to the introduction of our open category. We remain committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to uphold the principles of inclusivity in aquatic sports and remain confident that our gender inclusion policy represents a fair approach," the federation said, per the outlet.

World Aquatics called the decision “a major step forward in our efforts to protect women’s sport," the outlet reported.

Related: 16 Penn. Swimmers Say Trans Teammate Lia Thomas Should Not Compete: She Has 'an Unfair Advantage'

Thomas began hormone replacement therapy in May 2019, forcing her to adjust to her changing body as she began the process of switching to the women's team, she said in a 2022 Sports Illustrated interview.

After taking a gap year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on collegiate athletics, Thomas joined the University of Pennsylvania's women's team practices in late summer 2021. In Feb. 2022, 16 members of the team wrote an anonymous open letter expressing their belief Thomas should not be allowed to compete. In response, more than 300 NCAA, Team USA and global swimmers and divers signed a letter supporting Thomas and her inclusion on the women's team, SI reported.

Justin Casterline/Getty Lia Thomas swims in Atlanta, GA
Justin Casterline/Getty Lia Thomas swims in Atlanta, GA

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer , from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

In 2022, Pennsylvania introduced HB 972, also known as the "Save Women's Sports Act," which called for students to play on a team consistent with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Thomas spoke about the impact of such legislation with Penn Today.

"One of my big concerns for trans people is feeling alone," said Thomas. "Even if you don't pay attention to the news… [about] states proposing and passing vicious anti-trans legislation, it can feel very lonely and overwhelming."

"I'm a woman, just like anybody else on the team," added Thomas in her interview with SI. "I've always viewed myself as just a swimmer. It's what I've done for so long; it's what I love. I get into the water every day and do my best."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.