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Weightlifting Federation Amends Dress Code, Allows 'Unitards' to Benefit Muslim Woman


"It's what I believe in. It's what I've chosen to do."

In an effort to accommodate a Muslim woman's religious limitations, the International Weightlifting Federation has made substantial changes to its dress code. On Wednesday, the organization amended its rules and will now allow athletes to wear full-body unitards. A unitard is an extremely tight one-piece garment that has long legs and sometimes long sleeves.

Prior to the change, the IWF would not allow any "costumes" that had collars or that covered an individual's elbows or knees. If these body parts are concealed, competitors could secretly use supports that would unfairly elevate their performance. But, in the spirit of inclusion, an exception to this rule has been made. CNN has more about the woman who inspired these changes:

[Kulsoom] Abdullah, a 35-year-old with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering, is not an Olympic athlete, but enjoys lifting weights.

She generally wears loose, long pants past the ankles, a long-sleeve, fitted shirt with a loose T-shirt over it, and a hijab, or head scarf, covering her hair.

"It's what I believe in. It's what I've chosen to do," Abdullah told CNN this month about her decision to wear modest garb. "I've always dressed this way publicly."

The Atlanta resident inspired the IWF to review its clothing policies when she was told that she could not participate in some tournaments without compromising her religious garb.

Abdullah understands the need to ensure she isn't wearing knee or elbow supports and she has offered to allow the IWF to check her prior to competition. Now that the situation has been settled, the woman will be able to compete in upcoming tournaments.

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