Riley Gaines, a 12-time All-American swimmer who competed at Kentucky, blasted ESPN for honoring Lia Thomas in its “Celebrating Women’s History Month” segment.
Gaines has been at the forefront of women’s sports calling for fair treatment and keeping transgender women from competing against biological females at the highest level of competition. Gaines tied with the former Penn swimmer at the NCAA championships last year. Thomas’ performance in the pool caused a national firestorm.
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“Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title,” Gaines tweeted Sunday. “He is an arrogant, cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman. The @ncaa is responsible.
“If I was a woman working at ESPN, I would walk out. You're spineless @espn.”
ESPN didn't immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment.
The segment brought up Thomas’ transition from male to female, her win at the NCAA Championships and competing amid criticism from the swimming world.
ESPN HONORS LIA THOMAS IN ‘CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH' SEGMENT
“People will say, ‘Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage so she could win.’ I transitioned to be happy,” Thomas says in the segment.
Thomas’ participation in NCAA women’s swimming during the 2021-22 season sparked a growing debate over the fairness of transgender women competing against biological females. She became the first transgender woman to win an Ivy League Championship and later an NCAA Championship in the 500 free.
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But the wins didn’t come without scrutiny and put a sharper focus on the governing bodies of various sports to set rules regarding transgender athletes’ participation.