Relief for Dutee, IAAF’s new ‘gender’ policy will not cover her

The new rules will require athletes to reduce their blood testosterone levels, if they want to compete internationally.

Dutee Chand competes in 100m and 200m, currently. (File Photo)   -  AP

Sprinter Dutee Chand will be a relieved person, after four years of an ordeal, as she no longer falls in the purview of the new rules, announced, on Thursday, by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), pertaining to female athletes, who have high testosterone levels.

The new rules, which the IAAF put under the heading ‘Difference of Sexual Development’ (DSD), will require athletes, such as South Africa’s Olympic and world champion 800m runner Caster Semenya, to reduce their blood testosterone levels, if they want to compete internationally.

Dutee competes in 100m and 200m, while the new rules cover races from 400m to the mile, including 400m, hurdles races, 800m, 1500m, one-mile races and combined events over the same distances.

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These new regulations, approved by the IAAF Council, in March, will come into effect from November 1 and replace the previous Regulations Governing Eligibility of Females with Hyperandrogenism to compete in the Women’s Competition, which no longer applies anywhere in the sport, the IAAF said, in a statement.

Testosterones are male sex hormone, but they are also in a woman’s ovaries in small amounts. Those women athletes, who naturally produce these testosterones, above a permissible limit, are not allowed to compete in competitions meant for females.

Dutee had fought the lone battle when she challenged the Hyperandrogenism Regulations of the IAAF, at the Court of Arbitration for Sports, in 2015, and won it. The CAS suspended the Hyperandrogenism Regulations for two years and asked the IAAF to furnish evidence in support of its policy.

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The IAAF is expected to present these new regulations to the CAS. “This verdict is a result of my continuous fight. I am now relieved from the uncertainty of competing in my most loved events. I am free to compete at any level now,” an ecstatic Dutee said.

IAAF Council member and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) President Adille Sumariwalla expressed his happiness at the development.

“I am very happy for Dutee. These new regulations will not affect her, now, unless she runs 400m. She runs in 100m and 200m and we don’t want her to run in 400m. These new regulations will replace the earlier Hyperandrogenism Regulations,” Sumirawalla said.

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“I am also happy for other international athletes, who may have missed a medal in the past, because of the participation of athletes (who have higher levels of testosterone). It will be a level playing field. These athletes, who have higher levels of testosterone, are less than 10 per cent of all the athletes. The IAAF Council has taken a decision after days, not hours, of discussion, taking into account several aspects of the complicated issue,” he added.

Asked if the case of Dutee at the CAS will be disposed off, after these new rules, he said, “I have no idea, but these new rules will now be prevalent.”

“Not only Dutee, other Indian athletes may benefit. Say, for example, Tintu Luka is our top 800m runner and she may benefit,” Sumariwalla said, obliquely referring to South Africa’s Caster Semenya.

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Dutee’s ordeal began in 2014, when she was stopped from taking part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (CWG), after she failed a ‘gender test’. After that, she filed a case at the CAS and won in 2015, which allowed her to take part in the Asian Championships and the Rio Olympics, but the thought that she might be declared ineligible to compete lingered.

“Dutee is very happy with the development. She has suffered a lot. We have to see what happens of the case at the CAS,” her coach N. Ramesh said, from Hyderabad, where she is currently training.