‘Lia Thomas is a cheater who stole a title from a hard-working woman’: Swimmer Riley Gaines lashes out at ESPN
Swimmer Riley Gaines slams ESPN for honoring ‘arrogant cheat’ trans athlete Lia Thomas in Women’s History Month special — while Thomas denies moving to win, saying ‘I had no choice’
- Riley Gaines, a former University of Kentucky swimmer who finished her college career in 2022 as champion, spoke out against Lia Thomas on Sunday
- Lia Thomas, who swam for the University of Pennsylvania until graduating in 2022, broke records in her final season
- ESPN paid tribute to Thomas — who began transitioning in May 2019 and swam for the women’s team in 2021: Gaines said ESPN’s tribute was unjustified
ESPN has been slammed by a former college swimming champion for including transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in their segment dedicated to Women’s History Month, describing the company as “spineless,” and tweeting the hashtag “Boycott ESPN.”
Riley Gaines swam for the University of Kentucky and finished her college career in 2022 as “one of the most decorated swimmers in program history,” according to the British website. She became a 12-time NCAA All-American swimmer and a five-time SEC champion.
Gaines took on transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA championships in March 2022, saying the experience of racing with Thomas — who competed in the men’s competition until 2019 — “felt like going into the race with my hands tied behind my back. back.’
On Sunday, Gaines challenged ESPN’s decision to praise Thomas’ contribution to women’s sports.
Riley Gaines (right) is seen in March 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia after swimming against Lia Thomas (left) at the NCAA Championships
“Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title,” Gaines tweeted.
“He is an arrogant, cheater who STOLEN a national title from a hard-working, deserving woman. The @ncaa is responsible.
“If I were a woman who worked at ESPN, I’d run away. You are spineless @espn #boycottESPN.”
ESPN’s segment was titled, “Celebrating Women’s History Month.”
A voiceover explained how Thomas made history by becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division One championship in the 500 freestyle in 2022.
The Texas-born athlete swam in men’s competitions until the start of their transition in May 2019 and made her debut in women’s races in December 2021.
“Being trans isn’t a choice,” says Thomas. ‘I had no other choice, because not switching got me nowhere.
“People will say, ‘Oh, she just switched so she would have an advantage so she could win.’
“I switched to be happy.”
Lia Thomas can be seen in the ESPN clip describing how switching was the only option for her
Texas-born Thomas pitches for the University of Pennsylvania
Thomas became the first trans athlete to win an NCAA Division One championship title
Gaines can be seen at a rally this January outside the NCAA convention in San Antonio
Thomas’s competition as a woman was highly controversial.
The swimmer hoped to try for the Paris Olympics in 2024 after graduating – but that now looks unlikely given new rules requiring trans athletes to transition before the age of 12 by June 2022.
Gaines, who studied public health and is now entering dentistry, has become one of the most outspoken advocates against trans women in sports.
“Whether they have different lung capacities, their height, testosterone levels or whether or not they’ve taken testosterone blockers – it doesn’t suppress puberty as a man. Especially Lia, who swam as a male for three years,” Gaines told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in April 2022.
“Lia Thomas has shown extreme selfishness and a great lack of awareness – and just a total disregard for women.”
Gaines said Thomas’s participation in women’s collegiate swimming is part of a broader problem in society.
“We’re looking at the denial of the most basic truths,” she said.
“If you can’t recognize what a woman is, there’s a huge problem.
“This goes deeper than just sports. This is a systematic erasure of what a woman is.’