While watching athletes closely at national meets over the last few years, P. T. Usha has often wondered whether some of the girls running there were genuinely girls.

And now, with South Africa's double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya losing her appeal in the Swiss Federal Tribunal against regulations that force women with high testosterone levels to take medication to compete internationally in events from the 400m to the mile, Usha feels that athletes with similar issues in India will try to get out of these events.

“I think we have some such 20 athletes in our country. Most of them are running in the 400m and 800m with one or two in the 1500m,” said Usha in a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday.

'Need to watch them closely'

“And I feel quartermilers will not take medication to reduce their testosterone level to run the event. Isn't the high testosterone level the reason for them winning. Will they win after taking medicines to lower it?

“They will do the next best thing, run the 200m. We need to watch them closely.”

However, it looks like tests are going on to see how fast these athletes can run under medication. “I feel, at the top level, there are two to three athletes in our country with this condition. And they they might be trying to see how they are running the 400m with medicines,” said the former superstar of Asian athletics who is now a top coach.

Strangely, while the World Athletics' regulations for legally female athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD), who have male chromosomes (XY) and circulating testosterone in the male range, bar such women from running in elite international competitions if they don't lower their testosterone levels, it does not stop them from competing in national or State meets.

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“If they are allowed in national meets, it will spoil the chances of other girls. First of all, when our natural girls see such athletes they will feel demoralised,” explained Usha.

“Since a lot of tests have been conducted and since their results have come, countries would have been told that athletes with such issues cannot compete in international meets.

“The right thing to do is to ensure that such athletes are not allowed in Nationals also. What is the point in allowing them to run in national meets if they cannot compete internationally?”