A male powerlifting coach upset by the recent controversies around transgender athletes in sports took his competitive streak to a new level this week.
Avi Silverberg of Canada shattered the women’s benchpress record after telling officials he identifies as female, according to Fox News. The record in the 84+ kilogram category was previously held be Anne Andres, a transgender athlete who has won eight of the last nine powerlifting competitions entered. Andres is recognized as a female competitor on the Open Powerlifting tracking website.
Andres had a front row seat as Silverberg “mocked” the athlete’s record, as reported by the Independent Council on Women’s Sports.
🏋️♂️ Team Canada powerlifting coach, Avi Silverberg just broke the Alberta WOMEN's bench press record in the 84+ kg category at the "Heroes Classic."
Former record holder, trans-identifying male, Anne Andres had a front row view as Silverberg mocked the discriminatory CPU policy… pic.twitter.com/ajhUJPB4gc
— ICONS Women (@icons_women) March 27, 2023
Silverger’s benchpress of 167.5 kilograms, or 369 pounds, was all the more shocking because it did not violate rules of the competition set by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports and sanctioned by the Canadian Powerlifting Union. According to the organizations’ Trans Inclusion Policy, any athlete is able to compete in any gendered category based on self-identification alone.
Speaking before the meet, Andres posted a video questioning why the record for women’s benchpress was so “bad.”
🏋️Trans identifying male, Anne Andres is Alberta Canada's women's powerlifting record holder in bench
🚨competes next month in women's category at the 2023 CPU National Championships
🚩Recognizes no understanding of upper body strength differences btw males & females
— ICONS Women (@icons_women) January 4, 2023
In response, champion female swimmer Riley Gaines criticized Andres on Twitter saying, “Anne Andres (male who identifies and competes as a woman) doesn’t understand why female powerlifters are so ‘bad’ at bench press. Well I don’t know Anne, but maybe it’s because you have 20 times more testosterone than them. Just a thought…”. Gaines is the spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s forum and has been a vociferous critic of well-known transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Controversy within the sporting community reached a fever pitch in 2022 when Thomas, then a student on the University of Pennsylvania’s swimming team, came out as female and began smashing records while swimming in women’s competitions. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has hired a new president, former Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, in part to address controversies that have engulfed multiple sports and threatened congressional oversight.