IOC President Thomas Bach insists decisions on transgender participation must be based on scientific evidence ©Getty Images

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has insisted that there is "no one-size-fits-all" solution to transgender participation in sport as he urged organisations to make decisions based on scientific evidence.

The debate over whether trans women athletes should be allowed to compete in female sport continues to rumble on with Australian politicians using it as part of their campaigns in the build-up to today's federal elections.

Bach revealed after the IOC Session here that during his recent tour of Oceania, he had spoken about the topic of transgender inclusion with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

A framework for transgender and differences in sexual development (DSD) athletes was approved by the IOC last November, which recommends more flexibility to International Federations.

It marked a move away from the IOC’s 2015 consensus statement, which had a "one-size-fits-all" approach to the participation of transgender athletes, based on testosterone levels.

Transgender athletes seeking to compete in the female category were required to lower their testosterone to below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months under the IOC’s previous framework.

Criticism has been levelled at the IOC by some medical experts who argued that the organisation should set standards on the subject rather than providing recommendations for International Federations to follow.

Bach admitted it was a "very complex issue" but said the IOC would continue to offer guidance and called on governing bodies to "get down to science-based decisions".

"The IOC’s position is that there is no one-size-fits all solution," said Bach.

Transgender inclusion in sport has been a big topic in the build-up to the federal elecitons as Scott Morrison seeks to remain as Australian Prime Minister ©Getty Images
Transgender inclusion in sport has been a big topic in the build-up to the federal elecitons as Scott Morrison seeks to remain as Australian Prime Minister ©Getty Images

"We all agree that this is about creating a fair competition - grassroots level of sport has to be inclusive.

"Everybody has to have the access to sport.

"When it comes to competitive sport we have to ensure a fair competition that means you have to find out sport by sport, even discipline by discipline, where there is maybe an unfair advantage.

"You cannot compare an athlete in equestrian with a weightlifter, you cannot even compare in athletics - hammer thrower with a 5,000 metres runner.

"This is why the IOC has established guidelines on how to make this decision, how to evaluate where there is might be an unfair advantage and there is not.

"These guidelines say very clearly that all these decisions have to be based on scientific evidence.

"In order to come to this decision you need an inclusive dialogue of all concerned and then you can make a well-founded decision according to your sport and even your different disciplines.

"That’s the approach and now we are in contact with different International Federation to give them necessary interpretations whenever they need it to provide them with names of experts they can consult.

"This is an inclusive procedure which we had with athletes, scientists and people from the philosophy side.

"It is a very complex issue but there is no one-size-fits-all solution and I can only advise everybody discussing it to get down to the fact and get down to science-based decisions."

The IOC’s approach received praised from Human Rights Watch which claimed its framework was a "significant step toward protecting the dignity of all women athletes".

Images of three Australian Olympic swimmers were controversially featured on billboards next to the phrase
Images of three Australian Olympic swimmers were controversially featured on billboards next to the phrase "women’s sport is not for men" following their remarks in the transgender row ©Facebook

The framework outlines 10 principles that the IOC says will guide International Federations, which have been placed in charge of devising eligibility criteria and regulations for their own sports.

Inclusion, prevention of harm, non-discrimination and fairness are among key aspects of the framework, which says there should be no presumption of advantage and that sporting governing bodies must base any restrictions on "robust and peer-reviewed research".

Primacy of health and bodily autonomy, a stakeholder-centred approach, right to privacy and periodic reviews are also included in the framework.

In Australia, three sports science professors called on nine bodies to change their policies regarding participation of transgender athletes.

The professors reportedly presented biological evidence that athletes who had male testosterone levels during and after puberty have an athletic advantage.

The participation of transgender athletes has become a hot topic in Australia after Morrison expressed his support of the "Save Women’s Sport" bill before performing a U-turn.

If passed, the legislation, tabled by Liberal Senator Claire Chandler, would allow sporting organisations to ban transgender women from competing in female competitions.

The Australian Olympic Committee and Swimming Australia last month threatened legal action after an activist group used pictures of three Olympic swimming champions in a campaign against transgender athletes in women’s sport.

Images of Dawn Fraser, Emma McKeon and Emily Seebohm had featured on billboards, as the activist group Advance campaigned against Zali Steggall, who is a Member of Parliament for Warringah, following her support for transgender athletes taking part in women’s sport.