The ‘Rebirth’ of Indian Sprinter Dutee Chand: Wins A Big Fight For Women Athletes

Richa Verma

July 29th, 2015

Image Source: Wbur

The Logical Indian community salutes Dutee Chand, the 19-year-old Odisha Sprinter who was successful in getting the ban on her revoked, paving the way for gender equality in sports! She had been dropped out from the Commonwealth Games in June, 2014, by the Athletic Federation of India because it was found that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.

Hyperandrogenism means excessive secretion of androgens (male sex hormones), which is suspected to give female athletes advantage over their female competitors. In 2011 International Association of Athletics Federation had established guidelines requiring female athletes to have testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per liter.
The incident of banning her had been regarded as a breach of her right to be recognized as a woman and a slur on her dignity. Dutee felt that she lost all her honour. People had started suspecting whether she was a male or a female, her friends shunned her and in training centers, where girls use to share rooms, she was kept separately.

However, Dutee was undeterred and took the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She felt that the IAAF hyperandrogenism regulations were irrelevant in her case, as those features were in her body naturally, by birth, and not because of some drugs. For this reason she did not go in for a surgery, for removal of internal testes, which produce testosterone. She valiantly presented her case before the jury with the help of Katrina Karkazis and emotionally appealed that her right to be recognized as a woman be granted. And she won!

On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sports ruled in favour of suspending the hyperandrogenism regulation for female track and field sports for two years because there is no convincing scientific evidence that there is a link between enhanced androgen levels and improved athletic performance (in women athletes). The IAAF has been given two years to establish the link between the two. It has also been told to formulate a new basis for division of athletes into males and females because the question of whether an athlete is male or female does not have any easy answers, especially if a person is born with different hormonal levels. This effectively removes the suspension of Dutee from competition, clearing her to race again. She has been recognized as a woman and her levels of testosterone have been declared natural.

Indeed, Dutee has made history with her courageous decision to challenge a policy she felt was unfair to her and all woman athletes. She has paved the way for the benefit of a broad class of female athletes. Her fans and supporters are thrilled that she can resume running and wish her luck for all her future endeavours! We hope that she will prepare well for the Asian championship and other international events, bagging gold medals in tournaments to come.

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