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SAI steps in, offers to bear all costs of Dutee’s rehabilitation

SAI’s support to Dutee has been a break from it’s policy of the past.

The past month has been one of hell for junior sprinter Dutee Chand. She was left out of the athletics team bound for the Commonwealth Games after she was subjected to a hyperandrogenism test. It was found she has excessive levels of androgen — male sex hormones — in her body.

After days of uncertainty, the dark clouds that hung over her seem to be slowly lifting. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has come forward to help the 18-year-old athlete. It has offered to bear full expenses if she decides to explore medical options to bring down the androgen level in her body to “acceptable limits”.

Her condition came to light after tests were conducted on her by SAI, following a request from the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), which determined that she had excess androgen in her body and was, therefore, ineligible to compete in the female category.

Dutee, who was accompanied by freelance research consultant on sports and gender issues, Dr Payoshini Mitra, had a marathon meeting with SAI director general Jiji Thomson on Thursday where she was given assurance that she would be helped in every possible way.

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“We have given her a choice of two hospitals. If she decides to undertake surgery, we will bear the full expenses,” Thomson told The Indian Express.

“Two hospitals, AIIMS in New Delhi and Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, are the options that has been put forward to her,” he added.

Dutee is yet to decide on the matter because it could mean she needing two years to fully recover.

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While everybody including the Orissa government, the sports ministry and politicians offered help, Thursday was the first time that something concrete was offered to the 18-year-old.

SAI’s support to Dutee is a break from the past when insensitivity on the part of officialdom has forced athletes to fend for themselves.

Santhi Soundarajan, who had failed a similar test, had even tried to commit suicide after she was stripped off her Doha Asiad silver medal. With no support from anywhere, she was forced to work as a daily wager in a brick kiln. It was only after media highlighted her case that Shanthi was appointed a coach in SAI Bangalore.

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“We have had such cases in the past too, but this is the first time that we have officials who are willing to help out and be sensitive to her case,” Dr Mitra, who has worked with Shanthi and as well as Pinki Pramanik in the past, said.

“But we are here not only for medical assistance, that is not the whole picture. Lot of things are there that needs to be taken care of. We need to ensure that the athlete takes an informed decision. She needs to understand the consequences of decision, whether it is legal or medical,” Dr Mitra added.

AFI asked to furnish letter

While SAI’s effort is an encouraging sign, certain things refuse to change. The AFI, for instance, is yet to hand the official letter to Dutee as to why her name was withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games.

Thomson has asked the AFI to do the needful. “I have told them to issue the letter immediately,” Thomson said. “Dutee will appeal against this decision to the IAAF and we will support her there too.”

Dutee, meanwhile, has got over the initial shock. “I am good now, but I am still sad that my two years of preparation for the Commonwealth Games went unrewarded,” said Dutee, who has started training.

First published on: 15-08-2014 at 01:37:15 am
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