A bearded pro powerlifter entered a women’s competition in Canada and broke a record held by a trans lifter who was watching.
Avi Silverberg, Team Canada Powerlifting’s head coach for over ten years, competed in the Heroes Classic tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta, on Saturday after identifying as a female.
The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) shared video of him walking up to the platform while still fully beard and wearing a regular men’s singlet.
He then casually bench-pressed nearly 370 pounds, nearly 100 pounds more than the current Alberta women’s record.
That record was held by trans athlete Anne Andres, who was spotted watching Silverberg while volunteering at the event.
Andres also holds the Alberta women’s record for the deadlift, at 544 pounds — giving her the local record for the total of all three lifts, lifting a combined 1,245 pounds.
The trans lifter won eight of nine competitions entered in the women’s category over the last four years, ICONS said.
Andres stood off to the edge of the platform area as Silverberg broke her record, only walking back on after the male lifter walked off.
Silverberg, according to ICONS, “mocked the discriminatory [Canadian Powerlifting Union] policy” that allows competitors to register for events based on their “gender identity and expression, rather than their sex or gender,” promising “no consequences” for doing so.
According to CPU’s trans policy, an individual “should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify and not be subject to requirements for personal information disclosure beyond those required of cisgender athletes.”
It also states: “Nor should there be any requirement for hormonal therapy or surgery.”
However, the union’s competition registration policy states that a competitor’s “government-issued photo identification (excluding Youth lifters) must be verified during the weigh-in or equipment check, including date of birth, province and gender at all competitions.”
It is unclear if Silverberg presented a government-issued ID identifying him as a female or was required to.
Repeated messages left for CPU’s board of directors and executive staff were not returned Thursday.
Silverberg is among those executive members, listed on the CPU’s website as the vice president in Alberta.
He did not immediately agree to requests to be interviewed.
Either way, according to ICONS, “what Avi so obviously points out is that policies allowing men access to women’s sports completely remove any integrity in women’s competitions.”
“It doesn’t matter how Avi expresses himself or perceives himself. He clearly does not belong in women’s sport, and neither does any other male regardless of their motivation for wanting to participate.”
Silverberg, who is also an online coach and powerlifting columnist, has not directly addressed the competition.
However, Andres posted a series of lengthy video responses calling him “a coward and a bigot” with “malicious intent.”
Still, in one clip, she openly admitted that “maybe my participation isn’t necessarily fair — you know, there’s science, whatever.”
In another follow-up, she stated that it was not her problem because she “transitioned nearly 20 years ago.”
“I had surgery — I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I went through every step, which means that whatever governing body decides to make decisions, I will pass that test.”
“I actually care about women in sports because I AM a woman in sports,” she wrote next to one of the videos.
Bodybuilding influencer Greg Doucette was among those who praised the episode, pointing out how absurd it was for a man to compete in a supposedly drug-free event despite significantly higher testosterone levels.
“I think this proves a point. If a guy can just show up and then set the … record, doesn’t that prove that it’s not fair? So how long before the powers-that-be suddenly wake up, smell the coffee and understand that if you’re born a female you’re not gonna be as powerful, as strong … as if you were born a male.”
“I’m stating facts,” Doucette said of the “unfair advantage” — comparing it to the advantage a woman would have if she entered a drag queen show against men.
“To me the answer is simple — we add a separate category, a new category, the trans category,” he said, saying it is especially important for combat sports where women competitors could get injured.