Updated: May 22, 2019 12:15:54 pm
Dutee Chand’s elder sister, Saraswati, has said she was not opposed in principle to Dutee’s same-sex relationship but didn’t want her younger sister to be misled or exploited by those allegedly trying to piggyback on her fame and success as an athlete.
This on a day when Dutee claimed that her sister had been blackmailing her for money and threatening to go to town about she being in love with a girl and wanting to settle down with her in the future.
Dutee had travelled from her training base in Hyderabad to Bhubaneswar but is unlikely to visit her village, Chaka Gopalpur in Jajpur, where her family, including her elder sister, live.
“My sister has been blackmailing me for a while now. She has been trying to create problems in our family. She has been telling people that I have stopped talking to my parents and ignore them. She blackmailed me and asked for lakhs of rupees,” Dutee said on Tuesday.
READ | Dutee Chand’s sister threatens athlete with imprisonment after she acknowledges same-sex relationship
The 23-year-old sprinter, the national record holder in 100 metres, however, said that if an olive branch is extended she could consider mending fences with her sister. “I don’t know if my sister and I can sort out issues now. If she wants to talk to me, she should call. She is the one who made it a big issue,” Dutee said.
Saraswati, 10 years Dutee’s senior, said she was not opposed in principle to Dutee’s same-sex relationship.
“I am not against Dutee being in a same-sex relationship. She is an adult and is free to make her own choice with regard to whom she wants to be with. Dutee is a simple girl and I don’t want her to be misled by anyone. I know her like nobody else and she has a heart of gold. But she should not lose focus because the most important thing for her right now is qualifying for the World Championships and the Olympic Games,” Saraswati said on Tuesday, adding that she did not want to respond to allegations of being a blackmailer.
“Dutee can say what she wants about me and I don’t want to react. But Dutee should realise that I only have her best interest in mind. And she should utilise all her time in training and practice.”
Though the two of them are not on the best of terms currently, Saraswati was the one who inspired Dutee to take up athletics. “When she was 7, I took her to the police training ground in Cuttack. I am an athlete myself so I was keen that Dutee also plays some kind of sport. I used to take her for district meets as well as state meets,” Saraswati added.
On Sunday, Dutee had spoken to The Indian Express about being in a same-sex relationship – becoming the first Indian sportsperson to acknowledge the fact. Dutee said that she got the courage to talk about her relationship after the Supreme Court struck down Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code last September and decriminalised same-sex relations between consenting adults.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate. I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with. I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship. It is an individual person’s choice. Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her,” Dutee told The Indian Express on Sunday.
Back in 2014, when Dutee was dropped from the Commonwealth Games squad after officials said she fell foul of hyperandrogenism guidelines, Saraswati was one of the few people who became a pillar of strength for the young sprinter. Five years on, the relationship has hit a nadir even if there is a whiff of reconciliation.
Dutee has been a torchbearer in fighting for the eligibility of female athletes to participate in track and field events. Dutee had successfully knocked on the doors of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne to challenge the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Hyperandrogenism rules with put a cap on testosterone levels of women athletes who wanted to compete in track and field.
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