Garnbret wants strict BMI rules in 2023

EDITORIAL

5 December 2022

In a 40 min interview at the IFSC Climbing Summit, Janja Garnbret was very straightforward about BMI testing. She referred to a survey in Innsbruck where it later was stated that:

16 % of female athletes have no menstruation
and 22 % reported that they currently struggle with an eating disorder.

"We are in a trend right now where some athletes are very skinny. It is still a tabu in the climbing world. We all see it happening but we do not do anything about it."

"This is definitely the biggest problem in our sport right now. We have to ask the question to ourselves. What kind of message do we want to send to others? Do we want to raise the next generation of skeletons?"

"I am definitely up for strict (BMI) rules. I think they should be in place and maybe if you are underweight maybe you get a warning and then if you are the same in the next competition, you can not compete. That is how it should be. Because, I mean, athletes are risking their whole life for a very small part of their life careers. They can have health consequences later in life so we are putting athletes in jeopardy here, which is definitely not great. I am definitely up for strict rules and BMI testing."

"We need to start as soon as possible. Probably by the beginning of the first competition of next year, we should have some rules in place."

The IFSC medical commission has this autumn stated, "We need an immediate decision."

Last year, Stasa Gejo, who is in the athlete commission and overcame an eating disorder, forwarded some suggestions in an 8a article.

"In order to reduce the number of BMI-critical cases and to avoid any further public discussions on this topic, I believe there are two things that could be implemented by the IFSC.

The first one would be mandatory education (included in youth categories too), which could be conducted internationally or nationally. Such education should cover the basics of athletic nutritional needs, the proper nutrition for climbing and the consequences and outcomes of disordered eating.

The second one is to define rules precisely, adding strict consequences (i.e immediate ban) for those under the defined BMI limits. It would be preferable to use a combination of fat percentage and BMI, rather than just BMI, measured by advanced scales with an 'athletic mode' (as the regular fat measurement scales fail to measure precisely the athletes' composition). An example of such rules is in the rulebook of the Austrian federation, with an immediate ban for measurements below the values in the first column. The ones in between the two columns need to have a medical checkup before registering for an international competition. The federation can order a BMI check at any time and such athletes are more likely to be controlled multiple times throughout the season."


Stasa, you've been on the IFSC athlete commission for one year, has any progress been made?
I am afraid nothing has happened. No matter the suggestions we put forward, they just say there are legal problems. We will have a new meeting and I will again bring up the subject and make a statement saying that this is the highest priority as we are talking about health and that some females might not be able to have children in the future.

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EDITORIAL

5 December 2022

Garnbret wants strict BMI rules in 2023

In a 40 min interview at the IFSC Climbing Summit, Janja Garnbret was very straightforward about BMI testing. She referred to a survey in Innsbruck where it later was stated that: 16 % of female athletes have no menstruation and 22 % reported that they currently struggle with an eating disorder. …

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