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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Champion Indian sprinter going to court to prove she's a girl

Champion Indian sprinter going to court to prove she's a girl

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Thank god Jack Hale isn't female and Indian!

Indian sprinter fights 'cruel' gender rule

Date October 14, 2014

Abhaya Srivastava

A teenage Indian sprinter who was banned from international competition for failing a gender test is hoping her fight against rules on sexual identity will spare others the same fate.

Dutee Chand, 18, said she had suffered trauma and embarrassment, but her challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport could change controversial rules set by the athletics' world governing body.

Chand, the daughter of weavers who was brought up in rural poverty, had her promising career turned upside down when she was barred from this year's Commonwealth Games after showing elevated levels of testosterone.

"I was devastated," India's under-18 100 metres champion said. "I didn't know what I had done wrong. I had not taken any drugs. I had made no mistake so why was I being singled out?"


Chand was diagnosed with hyperandrogenism, a condition that produced high testosterone levels and meant she fell foul of the International Association of Athletics Federation's gender rules.

They were introduced after the IAAF's struggles with the case of South African runner Caster Semenya, who was banned but later reinstated after investigations into her gender.

The rules are intended to stop women competing with high levels of testosterone, which is known to increase strength and muscle mass.

But critics have challenged the science involved, saying the link between testosterone and performance is unclear, and that testing is arbitrary and psychologically damaging.

"I was told I must undergo surgery or take hormonal treatment if I wanted to salvage my career" Chand said by telephone from Bhubaneshwar in her home state of Orissa. "I was stunned to hear all this.

"It's so cruel. God has made me the way I am. I don't want to change anything and I also don't want to give up sports."

The IAAF would not comment on the case, which was expected to be decided within the next six months.

But the body said its regulations were meant "to uphold competitive equality" rather than question gender.

"The IAAF regulation is based on extensive international expertise in both ethics and medical science," said Chris Turner of the IAAF.

Chand said journalists had bombarded her parents with questions such as, "Is she a boy or a girl?" and "Does she have periods?".

"Can you imagine what my family and I are going through?" she said. "It's so humiliating."

With help from a researcher on gender and sports, Chand decided to fight her case and last month filed an appeal with the sports arbitration court in Switzerland.

"The officials are also supporting me in my fight," she said. "I now feel the whole country is behind me."

"I just hope and pray that my case sets a precedent so that others like me don't have to suffer the kind of trauma I am going through."

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