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Ron DeSantis proclaims woman swimmer victor instead of trans athlete Lia Thomas

DeSantis slammed the NCAA for declaring Thomas the victor.

March 23, 2022 5:25pm

Updated: March 23, 2022 6:13pm

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis declared Emma Weyant the "rightful winner" of the NCAA women's 500-yard freestyle over transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas.

UPenn touted that Thomas broke a program record after she finished the freestyle in 4:33.24. Weyant, a silver medal Olympian swimming for the University of Virginia, came in second, 1.75 seconds behind Thomas.

Thomas began competing as a woman in 2021, one year after starting testosterone blockers. Thomas has broken multiple national women's records despite not standing out previously as a male athlete.

A Sarasota, Fla., native, Weyant won the silver medal for 400m individual medley in the 2020 Olympic Games. DeSantis said that she logged the "the fastest time among all women swimmers" in her race against Thomas last week.

DeSantis wrote in his proclamation that "a male identifying as a woman was allowed to compete in and was declared the winner of the race by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Emma was determined to have come in second place."

The "NCAA's actions serve to erode opportunities for women athletes and perpetuate a fraud against women athletes as well as the public at large," DeSantis noted.

He pointed to Florida's Fairness in Women's Sports Act and said that "it is my determination that men should not be competing against women such as Emma Weyant, robbing women and girls of achievements, awards, and scholarships."

The NCAA has not publicly responded to DeSantis.

After being declared victor, Thomas told ESPN "I didn't have a lot of expectations for this meet... It means the world to be here and be with two of my best friends and teammates and be able to compete."

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