On Oct. 30, 2023, SpaceXMania published an article positing that Lia Thomas, an American swimmer who rose to fame after becoming the first openly transgender woman to win the NCAA Division I national championship in 2022, had been denied the right to participate in the 2024 Olympics, claiming that the Olympic Committee didn't "want a cheater." The article began:
Breaking: Olympic Committee Denies Lia Thomas’ 2024 Olympic Participation Request
The decision by the Olympic Committee to deny Lia Thomas’ request for participation in the 2024 Olympics marks an extraordinary and unprecedented move in the realm of competitive sports. The rejection, underscored by the Committee’s scathing remark, “We don’t want a cheater,” not only dismisses Thomas’s personal athletic merits but also conveys a broader, more controversial message. This outright denial and the accompanying harsh language are rare for an organization that typically veils its rejections in the more neutral language of policy and fairness.
This decision by the Olympic Committee never happened, and it is an inaccurate portrayal of the Olympic qualification process. The publisher of the article, SpaceXMania, describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:
Please note that the article under the category “SATIRE” are satirical in nature and are not meant to be taken seriously. These articles are meant to be humorous and are often entirely made up. We make no claim that the information presented in these articles is true or accurate.
Readers should exercise caution and use their own judgment when reading and interpreting our satirical articles. We take no responsibility for any actions taken based on the content of these articles.
SpaceXMania's Facebook account posted the story, garnering 22,000 likes and hundreds of transphobic comments, with many praising the Olympic Committee for their decision.
Thomas has previously expressed her desire to compete in the Olympics, saying in an interview with ABC News in May 2022: "It's been a goal of mine to swim in Olympic trials for a very long time and I would love to see that through."
However, the next month, World Aquatics – formerly known as Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) – the world's governing body for competitive swimming, barred transgender swimmers from competing in major women's events (such as the Olympics) as we've previously reported. World Aquatics has proposed an "open category" that would allow for trans competitors, but nothing yet has been made official.
In sum, while Thomas was not barred from competing in the 2024 Olympics by the Olympic Committee, all trans women have been prevented by World Aquatics from swimming in major women's swimming competitions for the foreseeable future.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.