A safety net is being cast to ensure junior woman athlete Dutee Chand does not slip into an abyss after she was declared unfit to participate in female events following a test conducted by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Preliminary investigations, following the test conducted by SAI’s medical officers, have indicated the presence of excess androgen (male sex hormones) in her body. The 18-year-old athlete has been distressed since having to undergo tests and subsequently being omitted from the athletics squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
However, unlike in the case of Santhi Soundarajan, the former Doha Asian Games silver-medal winner, who was initially left in the lurch after what was termed at that point in time a gender test, Dutee’s case is likely to be treated with greater care. Soundarajan had to resort to working in a brick kiln after she was disallowed from competition.
Maneesh Bahuguna, CEO of Anglian Medal Hunt Company, which manages the athlete from Jajpur in Orissa, said that “all support would be extended”.
“We are going to support her financially, legally and in terms of protecting her rights. At present, we don’t have the test results, but if there is any corrective medical therapy that is required we will support her for the same. We will also represent her when it comes to interactions with the Ministry of Sports, the Government of India, the Athletics Federation of India and the Sports Authority of India. We will also help her seek financial assistance from the government/SAI for medical therapy,” Bahuguna told The Indian Express
The athlete’s representative also added the position taken by SAI with regard to the athlete was in line with the IOC guidelines.
“We are very satisfied by the statement issued by SAI on Wednesday with regard to the preliminary findings of the test conducted on the athlete,” Bahuguna added.
SAI on Wednesday had said: “The issue of an athlete with hyperandrogenism was brought to our notice by the Athletics Federation of India (AFI). The preliminary investigations indicate the said athlete is not fit for participation in a female event. For confidentiality protocol, the name cannot be disclosed.”
The release further added: “This test does not determine the athlete’s gender. IOC and IAAF have banned gender-verification tests. The test simply tells us that she has excess androgen in her body and is therefore not eligible to compete in the female category.”
Bahuguna also expressed hope that the athlete might return to competition in the future. Preliminary test results indicate that Dutee’s case is similar to that of South Africa’s 2009 World champion in the 800 metres, Caster Semenya whose samples showed higher levels of testosterone. Semenya returned to competition following medical therapy.
This means Dutee can return to competition on completing treatment for hyperandrogenism — as per the eligibility regulations laid down by the International Olympic Council and the international Athletics Federation (IAAF).
The Indian Express was the first to report that SAI had conducted a test on a junior woman sprinter, but withheld the athlete’s name till the results were announced.