The numbers are shocking.
Caster Semenya may be the most talked about intersex athlete but athletics’ world body IAAF says the number of athletes with Difference of Sexual Development (DSD) is worryingly high.
“It is not just the one or two females you hear about in the media. In elite female athletics, the number of intersex athletes is 140 times more than what you might find in the normal female population,” the IAAF said.
That being the situation at the international level, one was curious to know about the scene in India.
“In the last two to three years, around 10 athletes could come under suspicion under this rule. There are female athletes who look just like males in India,” said track great P.T. Usha, who watched many national meets as the Central Government’s Observer till she quit the post a few months ago.
“Many such athletes came up, especially, after the IAAF relaxed the rules a couple of years ago.”
Questions have also been raised in the last months by top coaches about an Indian quartermiler.
Robert Bobby George, who coached his long jumper wife Anju George to the 2003 World Championship bronze, feels that there could be a few cases in India too.
“But we don’t see many Caster Semenyas here, at least not many winning Semenyas, because probably they have not been trained properly,” said Bobby George.
Meanwhile, Adille Sumariwalla, the President of the Athletics Federation of India, feels that there could be many.
“There may be many, especially from rural areas,” Sumariwalla told Sportstar .
Three years ago, Odisha sprinter Dutee Chand, who was stopped from competing as her testosterone levels were higher than that allowed by IAAF, successfully fought against the IAAF’s rules at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That brought her international fame as the CAS temporarily suspended the IAAF rules and allowed her and other athletes, like Semenya, to run again with their natural condition.
But now, the IAAF’s new rules say that athletes who compete in events ranging from the 400m to the mile will have to substantially reduce and maintain their testosterone levels, through medication, by November 1 if they want to run.
“It has been scientifically proven that 85 per cent of the major international medals won from the 400m to 1500 are from people with DSD,” said Sumariwalla, who is also an IAAF Council member, brushing aside criticism that there was a racial tinge to the new rules as they target South African Semenya.
Sumariwalla also said there was no proof to stop the Indian quartermiler.
“We have no documentary proof about that at all. Anyway, everybody’s blood samples have been taken (at a recent major meet), so if there is anything, they will report it to us,” he said. “We will see what is to be done. If there is anything, the IAAF will come back to us because they do the testing, not us.”
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