Olympian Michael Phelps On Trans Swimmer Lia Thomas: ‘It Has To Be A Level Playing Field’

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Twenty-three time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, said “sports should be played on an even playing field,” when questioned about the fairness of transgender UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas competing against women.

Phelps was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week and asked for his thoughts on the “controversy” surrounding Thomas’ “right to swim” against female athletes despite absolutely destroying them during competitions.

The retired GOAT, who ended his Olympic reign at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, compared the issue to doping, athletes taking performance enhancing drugs during competition.

“I don’t think I’ve competed in a clean field in my entire career,” he began. “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,” Phelps continued. “For me, I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Parents of UPenn swimmers, wrote an open letter to the university demanding that Thomas be restricted from participating, but the school responded that they “fully support” the transgender swimmer and are “committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes.”

Phelps doesn’t think the issue is so clear cut. “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,” he said. “I don’t know what that looks like in the future, but it’s hard.” 

“It’s very complicated. This is my sport, this has been my sport for my whole entire career,” he concluded. “Honestly, the one thing I would love is everybody to be able to compete on an even playing field. That’s all I can say.”

The NCAA’s Board of Governors will “review the NCAA transgender participation policy at its meeting” this week and issue a statement.

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