A bearded pro powerlifter entered a women’s competition in Canada — and smashed a record held by a trans lifter who was watching on.
Avi Silverberg — the head coach for Team Canada Powerlifting for more than 10 years — entered Saturday’s Heroes Classic tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta, after identifying as a female.
Video shared by athlete activist group the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) shows him walking up to the platform still fully bearded and wearing a regular men’s singlet.
He then casually bench-pressed 370 pounds — beating the current Alberta women’s record by nearly 100 pounds.
The current record — 275 pounds — is held by trans athlete Anne Andres, who was seen watching Silverberg while volunteering at the event.
Andres also holds the Alberta women’s record for the deadlift, with 544 pounds — giving her the local record for the total of all three lifts, lifting a combined 1245 pounds.
The trans lifter won 8 of 9 competitions entered in the women’s category over the last 4 years, ICONS said.
As Silverberg broke her record, Andres stood off to the edge of the platform area, only strolling back on after the male lifter walked off.
ICONS said Silverberg “mocked the discriminatory [Candadian Powerlifting Union] policy” that allows competitors to register for events under their “gender identity and expression, rather than their sex or gender,” vowing “no consequences” for doing so.
CPU’s trans policy states that an individual “should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify and not be subject to requirements for disclosure of personal information beyond those required of cisgender athletes.”
It also states that: “Nor should there be any requirement for hormonal therapy or surgery.”
Meanwhile, 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.
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.”
In another follow-up, she also noted how she “transitioned almost 20 years ago.”
“I got surgery — I can prove without any doubt whatsoever that I have gone through every step, which means whatever governing body decides to make decisions, I will pass that test.”
“I actually care about women in sport because I AM a woman in sport,” she wrote alongside one video.