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Florida governor declares Sarasota swimmer winner over transgender athlete

Governor Ron DeSantis
Posted at 7:33 AM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 09:33:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation Tuesday declaring swimmer Emma Weyant the winner of the 500-yard freestyle race at the Division 1 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships over Lia Thomas, who is transgender.

Weyant attends the University of Virginia, but is from Sarasota, Florida. She finished 1.75 seconds behind Thomas, coming in second place in the race.

"Now the NCAA is basically taking efforts to destroy women's athletics. They’re trying to undermine the integrity of the competition and they’re crowning somebody else the women's champion and we think that’s wrong," said Governor DeSantis.

DeSantis sounded off on the results during an unrelated press conference Tuesday morning.

He accused the NCAA of destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships and perpetuating a fraud.

He went on to say that "in Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota's Emma Weyant as the best women's swimmer in the 500y freestyle."

Brandon Wolf, press secretary for Equality Florida, said the governor should focus on issues impacting the state like increasing rent and affordable housing.

"The truth is words matter and when you have people at the highest level of leadership in the state of Florida debating the very dignity and humanity of transgender, non-binary young people that has an impact," said Wolf.

Last year, Governor DeSantis signed a bill stating that an athlete's sex would be determined by their official birth certificate. According to NPR, 11 states have transgender sports bans, many of which are caught up in lawsuits.

"We thought it was very important that young girls and women athletes in the state of Florida had the ability to work hard, to realize their dream and to compete fairly," said Governor DeSantis.

This story was first reported by Dan Trujillo at WFTS in Tampa, Florida.