The NCAA did not ban transgender swimmer Lia Thomas for life; claim is satire | Fact check

The claim: The NCAA banned Lia Thomas from competitive swimming for life

A Feb. 23 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) shows a photo of Lia Thomas, a former collegiate swimmer who is transgender, alongside a photo of a sign outside of the NCAA’s headquarters.

“NCAA Bans Lia Thomas For Life From Competitive Swimming,” reads part of the text in the post, which directs social media users to an article making the same claim.

Many commenters treated it as legitimate news.

“Finally common sense prevails. But why did it take the NCAA so long to come to their senses,” wrote one.

“About time ncaa got its system together (sic),” wrote another.

The post was shared more than 1,000 times in six days.

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Our rating: Satire

The claim is a fabrication, an NCAA spokesperson said. It was posted by an account that posts exclusively satirical content and directs readers to an article labeled as satire.

Thomas ran out of college eligibility in 2022

Thomas became a central figure in the national discussion about transgender people in sports while she was on the swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania. She became the first transgender athlete to claim an NCAA Division I national championship when in March 2022 she won the women’s 500-yard freestyle title.

But the NCAA has not issued her a lifetime ban. The claim in the post is a fabrication, organization spokesperson Greg Johnson told USA TODAY.

Fact check: No, Lia Thomas has not announced plans to move to a 'more tolerant' nation

It was posted by the satirical account SpaceX Fanclub. Its bio states that “nothing on this page is real.” The post directs readers to a Feb. 23 article on the website Esspots that carries a satire label and includes a bio of the writer that describes him as a satirist.

That article claims the NCAA banned Thomas from participating in future competitions. Not only did that not happen, but such a ban would be meaningless. Thomas can’t swim in any future college meets anyway because she has no remaining collegiate eligibility, having completed her senior season at Penn in 2022.

The NCAA posts announcements on its website about the sanctions and penalties it issues to players, coaches and schools. Thomas is not mentioned in any announcements from 2024.

Thomas has been a frequent subject of misinformation on social media. Among the claims debunked by USA TODAY are assertions that her medals were being reallocated, that the International Olympic Committee banned her and that she lost to Riley Gaines in an Olympic qualifier.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: No, Lia Thomas did not receive lifetime ban from NCAA | Fact check