Sprinter Dutee Chand, who had tested for excess androgen that made her ineligible to compete in the women’s category, has refused to undergo hormone therapy or any surgical intervention, saying she always competed the way she was and would not like to change that.
“I won’t undergo surgery or any other procedure. At every level of my life — junior, sub-junior or Under-20 — I have competed the way I am. I’ve been told the hormonal issue with me is natural so that’s why we have decided this,” Dutee told The Indian Express.
The 18-year-old sprinter, who was dropped from the last Commonwealth Games because of her condition, recently started training in Patiala.
Backing Dutee, who is the 100m junior national champion, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is in the process of consulting lawyers ahead of filing a motion in the Court of Arbitration in Sports (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The motion will try and get overturned the 2011 guidelines of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that regulate the eligibility of women with hyper androgenism by advising them hormone therapy and, in some cases, surgery. South African Olympic medallist Caster Semenya too had to undergo treatment before she was allowed to compete again.
The motion, if successful, will be a landmark case, challenging the prevalent practice of “bringing the testosterone levels within permissible limits”.
SAI has taken upon itself to ensure that the young athlete gets back on track soon. “The Sports Minister has given the assurance to Parliament that we will support the girl to an extent. We are trying our best to see that she is taken back,” SAI Director General Jiji Thomson said.
Before Dutee came to the decision of avoiding medical intervention, she was made aware of the consequences of the therapy by Dr Payoshini Mitra, a researcher and activist dealing with gender issues in sport.
“It is a unique case since the hyper androgensim guidelines came out in 2011 where some sort of intervention could be possible from people like me who understand that this policy is discriminatory and harmful for young athletes like Dutee. So even before the system — the sports federation of the country or the IAAF — could test or ask the athlete to get some medical intervention, we could step in and say that you must first understand the consequences of these medical interventions and then decide what you want. So she was very lucky,” Dr Mitra said.
According to her, the argument against these guidelines, and one that the lawyers may raise in Lausanne, is fairly simple: The regulations aim at lowering testosterone regardless of athletes’ health, symptoms, and fertility goals conflicts with the medical treatment of hyper androgenism and that the policies that regulate hyper androgenism in women athletes are not in keeping with best ethical practices.
Before approaching CAS, Dutee has to file an appeal with the Athletics Federation of India. “We need some more clarifications before we approach the CAS. Our lawyers said that before going to the CAS, Dutee needs to appeal against this order of the AFI,” Dr Mitra said.