People Are Calling Michael Phelps Hypocritical After He Spoke Out Against Trans Athlete Lia Thomas

·4 min read

You know Michael Phelps. He's the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. The swimmer has 28 medals — 23 of which are gold — to his name.

Michael above water during a race
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Well, he joined journalist Christiane Amanpour on her podcast last week, where he was asked about Lia Thomas.

Now for those of you who don't know, Lia — a trans woman — has been breaking swimming records left and right at the University of Pennsylvania. Because of this, she's sparked debate from athletes, parents, and the public, with some claiming her participation as a trans woman is unfair.

Lia by the pool preparing for a race with other swimmers behind her

"I first realized I was trans the summer before, in 2018,” Thomas recently told SwimSwam. “There was a lot of uncertainty, I didn’t know what I would be able to do, if I would be able to keep swimming. And so, I decided to swim out the 2018–2019 year as a man, without coming out, and that caused a lot of distress to me. I was struggling — my mental health was not very good. It was a lot of unease, basically just feeling trapped in my body. It didn’t align. I decided it was time to come out and start my transition.” In 2020, Lia was approved by the NCAA to swim on the women's team.

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"There are some people who are questioning her right to swim on a women's team," Christiane said to Phelps. "She's transgender. She's also been taking testosterone suppressants, but nonetheless does much better than her female contestants. What do you make of this?"

  CNN / Via Twitter: @amanpour

“I can talk from the standpoint of doping,” Phelps said. “I don’t think I’ve competed in a clean field in my entire career.”

  CNN / Via Twitter: @amanpour

"So, I think this leads back to the organizing committees again. It has to be a level playing field. That's something that we all need. That's what sports are."

Michael speaking

"For me, I don't know where this is going to go," Phelps added. "I don't know what's going to happen. We all should feel comfortable with who we are, but I think sports should be played on an even playing field. It's hard. It's very complicated."

  CNN / Via Twitter: @amanpour

"This is my sport," he continued. "This has been my sport my whole entire career. I would love for everybody to be able to compete on an even playing field."

  CNN / Via Twitter: @amanpour

People called out the hypocrisy of Phelps' statement, considering he was born with features that advantage him as a swimmer, including a exponentially larger wingspan, double-jointed ankles, bigger lung capacity, flipper-like legs, and more.

Phelps has yet to respond to the backlash, but we will be sure to update you if he does.