Fina, swimming’s international governing body, has announced a controversial new policy that will ban transgender swimmers from competing under the gender that they identify with. More than 71 percent of Fina’s 150 national member federations voted on Sunday to approve the new policy on “eligibility for the men’s and women’s competition categories”.

Under these regulations, transgender athletes will only be allowed to compete as their self-identified gender if they can show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [one of the early stages of puberty] or before age 12, whichever is later.” Fina has also proposed the creation of a new “open” competition category for athletes who do not meet the criteria for the men’s or the women’s category.

The organisation will establish a working group to assess how this can be implemented. Fina President Husain Al-Musallam insisted that the rules are necessary to “protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at Fina competitions.” Al-Musallam added: “The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level.