Indian sprinter Dutee Chand’s challenge against gender testing | Foul Play


People in public started
saying very bad things. People started to look
at me in a different way. Some said that my career
on the track was over forever. The 19-year-old
Indian sprinter, Dutee Chand, was forced out of action after tests revealed
high levels of testosterone. She was subjected
to gender testing to confirm her eligibility
to race as a woman. This is not the first
incident in India, that this has happened. 2006 silver medal winner,
Santhi Soundarajan, has been subjected to the
ignominy of gender testing. Female athletes whose bodies
naturally produce high levels of testosterone are not allowed to compete
unless they lower the hormone. Gender should not be
the method by which we comprehend athletic ability, and then question if a woman
is not actually a woman. It disgraces athletes who
don’t perfectly align with one of their gender groupings. (FOUL PLAY) (DUTEE) ..Performance
in the sprints… Wearing number two,
she held off a challenge from Betty Moore to win the
100 yards in 10.6… We have decades of ways of
policing women’s eligibility going back to the time that
they entered sport. And so there have been
a lot of ways that sport’s governing bodies
have tried to single out one sex trait as a way to divide people into male or female. More recently, what we’ve had
are testosterone thresholds. What’s interesting to me about
this is that they can do a test and say
“Oh, wait, that’s doping,” or “Oh, wait, that’s your
natural testosterone.” If it’s natural for men,
they close the case. If it’s natural for women,
right, so they’re not
at that point doping, they actually get ushered in
to a whole range of exams that include scans
to look at your internal reproductive organs. They examine your genitalia. They try to read sex
on the body. The impact of these policies
is chilling. (HYPERANDROGENISM, OR ANDROGEN
EXCESS, IS A MEDICAL CONDITION (CHARACTERISED BY
EXCESSIVE LEVELS OF (TESTOSTERONE IN THE BODY. (THE CONDITION AFFECTS
APPROXIMATELY 1% (OF ELITE FEMALE ATHLETES. (DUTEE CHAND IS ONE OF THEM.) (HYDERABAD, INDIA) When I was a child,
we were a very poor family. We didn’t have a house. It was very difficult to
run the household. We didn’t even have a bicycle. Wherever we needed to go,
we had to run or walk. It was in 2003 that I first
began to focus on training by running with my sister. At that time, I was
maybe seven or eight years old. My sister found out that you
can have a career in sports, so, thinking of the career
opportunities, she asked me to begin training. She got me to begin training,
not realising that, one day, I would be such
a great athlete. In the youth nationals, I earned many medals
and broke national records. Because of this, I was selected
for the world championships. (SANTHI SOUNDARAJAN, (WOMEN’S 800M SILVER MEDALLIST,
2016 ASIAN GAMES) (KATHAKURICHI VILLAGE, INDIA) I was born here in
Kathakurichi Village. I have been living here
since birth. Since the time
I started in sports, I felt like any other athlete,
like a normal athlete. I was also jolly like them. In each competition, I competed
with the mind-set of winning. I practised, put in hard work, and have run in every
competition with that mind-set. Our school initially didn’t
give much importance to playing sports. They only conducted
yearly competitions. When I ran in that competition, I beat everyone,
so I was very happy. Every medal I’ve achieved
has been a great source of pride for me. These are the big
achievements – the international medals. Because of being born
in this humble village, and yet reaching
international heights – it’s no simple task. A team-mate, in lane three,
there she is, Santhi Soundarajan… In my country, no-one has won
an Olympic medal in the athletic field. The final of the women’s
800 metres… I felt I had the ability to
win that medal. But unfortunately, the gender
test that happened in 2006 is something that I can
never forget in my life. Jamal gets it. Was it Soundarajan who took
silver from Yalovtseva? We’ll need a photograph to
separate those two. Winner of the silver medal,
representing India – Soundarajan, Santhi. Something of a late-flourisher
at the age of 25… (SANTHI SOUNDARAJAN WON
11 INTERNATIONAL MEDALS FOR HER COUNTRY.) (AFTER FAILING A GENDER TEST
IN 2006, SANTHI WAS STRIPPED OF HER
ASIAN GAMES SILVER MEDAL.) (SHE WAS BANNED FROM COMPETING
IN SPORTS INDEFINITELY.) Now, for those who brought
laurels to the country, it can not get more cruel
than this 2006 Asiad silver medal winner, who has been subjected to
the ignominy of gender tests. It brings to the fore how
insensitive a society we are to people whose gender or
sexuality are different from what is regarded as normal. Nobody should face this
kind of situation in life. They forced me out
of the sports field. I don’t know what they
achieved by kicking me out. One of the critical
differences between Dutee and Santhi’s case is
that the policy is different. And so, during the time – it was 2006 that Santhi
was investigated – there was no option to
lower your testosterone. You were simply banned
for not having the proper sex traits. In 2014, I didn’t know
that much about the world or the rules. The only thing I understood
was that athletes had to take doping tests. I have taken those many times. When I tested positive for
hyperandrogenism in the tests, I was very hurt and felt
that there was so much I didn’t know about the world. I faced public ridicule
every day. People started to look
at me in a different way. I only had one dream – that I could return
to the track again. I was more worried than her. The start is important – start. Good running. Good start. Because her age is that… Because 18, 17-18 years girl, she may not be
knowing anything. What’s happening
about the life? What’s the future? As a kid, she knows she’s
winning and getting medals. People are coming
and congratulating. So, suddenly things disappear. Once, she said to me,
“Sir, I know only running.” “If God doesn’t want me to run,
then what I can do?” And she felt very, very
bad because… I too felt, a person who has got
a passion to do something, and that has been taken away. When they did the gender test,
I thought to myself, “Why do I need to do this?
For what reason? “I’m a normal athlete
like everyone else. “Why are they putting me
through this?” Because that instance changes
everything about life. Gender testing spoils
everyone’s lives. The rule is,
when hyperandrogenism is in more excess in the woman, she has got…
They’ve got an undue advantage. They are not supposed to
participate in women’s session. If you want to participate, either you should go
for therapy, or surgery. But this was the rule. For all those who stood
against me, I just have one thing to say. Whoever I am,
and whether androgen is more or less in my body, this is the way God made me. I did not do anything
to alter my body. I did not take any medication. If this is the way God made me, why should I or anyone
change that? If someone is born blind, there is nothing anyone can do
to give them sight again. If someone is born mute, there is nothing anyone
can do about that. If we can’t change
conditions like that, then why would people
try to change me? If someone is tall
and wants to be short, there is nothing anyone
can do about that. There are tall
and short athletes and that does not seem to
matter to anyone. I am short and have
hyperandrogenism, why is this a problem? I don’t feel I have
a lot of strength, so why are you
trying to stop me? It takes a lot of hard work to
become an athlete, and, being an athlete,
I know that. To get to that stage, she probably had to dedicate
her life to sports and make that her 24-hour job. I know how much hard work
she must have put in to get to that level, so when they stopped her from
competing, I felt really bad. (ON 30 JUNE 2014, THE ATHLETIC
FEDERATION OF INDIA SENT A LETTER ABOUT THE ATHLETE TO
THE SPORT AUTHORITY OF INDIA. “THERE ARE DEFINITE DOUBTS
REGARDING THE GENDER OF “AN ATHLETE, MS DUTEE CHAND.” “AS IS AWARE (SIC) THAT IN THE
PREVIOUS PAST ALSO SUCH CASES “OF FEMALE HPERANDROGENISM
(SIC) HAVE BROUGHT “EMBARRASSMENT TO THE FAIR NAME
OF SPORTS IN INDIA.”) They didn’t just stop Dutee
and leave it with that. They put her in the media
and really harassed her – did she have this
problem or that problem? (SAI CONFIRMS SPRINTER FAILS
TEST, TO MISS WORLD JUNIORS – THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS) (DUTEE CHAND FAILED TEST
CONDUCTED TO CHECK ANDROGEN LEVEL: SPORTS AUTHORITY
OF INDIA – NDTV SPORTS) (DUTEE CHAND FAILS GENDER TEST
AHEAD OF COMMONWEALTH GAMES – DECCAN CHRONICLE) At first, I was very
hurt by the federation for putting my private life
on display with the media. It used to make me very happy
when I would receive medals. The media used to
congratulate me. But in my personal life, the speculation of whether
or not I was a woman was hard. Once you’re blamed, the world will talk and look
at you negatively. I realised later that people in
media were coming to help me. They gave me a lot of
support and help. I received calls from the
newspapers and TV networks saying they wanted to help. When this hyperandrogenism
case happened, she got support from
every corner. Payoshni Mitra,
she was a social worker in genderless conditions. She came all the way from
Calcutta to her village, and explained the government,
because before that there, nobody knows that
hyperandrogenism word, or why they are banning it. Many people, they don’t know. Many people said,
“Better you go operate it.” Or some people said,
“Now, you’re finished.” Because it’s a world rule.
In the world over, nobody… Nobody has come back,
so you’re finished. Better you go home like that. But she stood back. “It was not my mistake.” “What mistake I did?” So she’s such
a type of character – when she doesn’t
do any mistake, when she’s right,
she will fight for anything. (SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES) I had set up a Google Alert
about the hyperandrogenism policies, and so in July 2014, I got a Google Alert
about Dutee because her name had
been leaked to the press. So, when that e-mail came in, I read the story and then
I e-mailed Payoshni, and, of course, she had heard
about the case. And at that point,
I said to her, “What, if anything, can I do,
or what should I be doing?” And very quickly, in a series of e-mails
over a couple of days, she and I started
thinking about what’s even legally possible.
right, around challenging this policy, if that’s something
that Dutee wanted to do. Payoshni said, “There’s another
way. We can fight the case.” “If we fight the case in the
Court of Arbitration for Sports “and they rule in your favour,
you can compete.” She asked me what
I wanted to do – fight the case or take
the medical way out. I told her that I felt content
and happy with myself and that I didn’t
want medicine, that I will continue to
run as I always have, that I would fight the case. I don’t think it’s easy
for people to understand what it means to challenge
a policy like this. It means going against
everything, for the most part, that you’re told to do. It means going against
Athletics Federation of India, Sport Authority of India,
IAAF… It means going against what
people who are trying to influence you or try… whether that’s coaches
or sponsors or others. She’s coming up against
something that is incredibly powerful and saying, “I shouldn’t have to
comply with this.” I was very scared at the time. I trusted no-one. But when Payoshni told me
she would help me, and the Minister said he would
pay for all my financial needs, and the media also
said they supported me, I gained a lot of confidence
and wanted to fight the case. Our side absolutely discussed
the ways in which all elite athletes are
in some way physiologically or biologically atypical. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t
have excelled to the point that they did. (TESTOSTERONE IS
A SIGNIFICANT DETERMINANT OF ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE) There were these
arguments made about massive androgenic advantage. (THE PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF
EXOGENOUS TESTOSTERONE AND ENDOGENOUS TESTOSTERONE
ARE IDENTICAL) That somehow this
testosterone was jet fuel, and Dutee was going to be
like Road Runner, you know, with the legs spinning, you
know, going ahead of everybody. And the idea was that
this is the only biological criterion that’s regulated. And we had known at that point
that the evidence wasn’t there to support the policy, which is that women
with naturally high T had such a significant
competitive advantage, and that they shouldn’t be
allowed to compete. According to me,
every girl who has got a hyperandrogenism extra
may not be champion. You need some other qualities –
fighting spirit, talent, and training. I don’t think of this as simply
being a scientific question. I actually think it’s an
ethical question, it’s a human rights question,
it’s a social question – It’s not simply
a scientific question and it shouldn’t just be
ceded to science. But in that particular
framework, science was the dominant
question at hand. And roughly four months later,
the decision came, by e-mail, and basically what
it said is that this is a policy that
discriminates against women. And the court said, “You can’t
discriminate against this group “because the scientific
evidence isn’t there “to merit that kind of
discrimination.” (THE PANEL IS UNABLE TO
CONCLUDE THAT HYPERANDROGENIC FEMALE
ATHLETES MAY ENJOY SUCH A SIGNIFICANT
PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGE) So, against all odds, we won,
and she always knew it. She always felt
like we would win. What this means right now
that the policy is suspended, is that for the 2016 Olympics, there is no hyperandrogenism
policy. This is a completely
historical moment that’s never been seen before. It’s incredible. It means that
women can compete without being regulated and policed and
forced to undergo interventions or else be banned
because they have a particular biological trait
that doesn’t fit what the IAAF wants. I was very happy
with the verdict. It was the right verdict. Not just for me, but for other
girls like me as well. In sports here, the girls
who leave their families train and work hard to make
their country proud. When they are wronged
or mistreated, I feel hurt. This is really
a much-awaited judgment because, if that judgment
hadn’t passed, neither Dutee Chand
nor the other banned athletes would have been able to run. Dutee Chand is a young girl, and today she has made India
acknowledge her. Not just India,
but the entire world. This is definitely
due to her hard work. There were many people
against Dutee, and I supported her
a lot at that time. I feel very happy about that, as giving support to
someone brings me joy. So, Dutee Chand should
win a medal for India. Not just for India. Right now, she is a leading
example for all women. So, Dutee Chand is
a really great athlete. It took me 14 years
since I began training to qualify for the Olympics. I’m very happy my dream of
being in the Olympics finally came true. I’m representing India
as the first girl to qualify for 100m in 36 years. This is a big moment
and means a lot to me and everyone supporting me. After qualifying
for the Olympics, the training is rigorous
and tough. It was different before. I wasn’t so focused on
training and on my body. I was doing just enough and not
pushing myself like I am now. Before, wherever I went,
no-one recognised me. Now everybody recognises
me as Dutee Chand, as a sprinter and an athlete. I get a lot of respect now. She doesn’t have any other
focus. She’s like a small kid. Comes to enjoy training,
joking around. That’s all. Nothing serious. Because I know her passion. See, whatever you do, she comes and trains,
and whatever hard training, she never says no. She never says no. You want
one more rep? “OK, sir.” I was really happy when Dutee
qualified for the Olympics. Who knows if we’ll ever
have this moment again? I mean, this might be
the one blip where we were on the right side of history, and it happened,
and, you know, it can go away, and so it’s important
to witness this. It’s important for all of us
to witness it, and support these athletes
who are actually, for a moment,
being treated fairly. (ON JULY 26, 2015 THE COURT
RULED IN FAVOUR OF DUTEE AND TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED THE
HYPERANDROGENISM REGULATIONS.) (AS A RESULT, SHE QUALIFIED
FOR THE 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES WITHOUT HAVING TO ALTER
HER HORMONE LEVELS.) So I always think,
I was born in this world. As many days as I’m here, I will do good for this nation
and the world. I always do my training
while thinking that. And whatever I do, then
I remember that I came to do something and will do
something before I leave. (DUTEE WAS THE FIRST FEMALE INDIAN SPRINTER IN 36 YEARS TO COMPETE IN THE
100M AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES.) Set. (AFTER FURTHER ANALYSIS, IN
APRIL 2018 THE IAAF ANNOUNCED NEW ELIGIBILITY REGULATIONS
FOR FEMALE RUNNERS, SETTING AN UPPER
TESTOSTERONE LIMIT. (DUTEE WAS LEFT UNAFFECTED
BY THE REVISED REGULATIONS, (WHICH ONLY APPLY TO ATHLETES (IN EVENTS FROM 400M
TO THE MILE.) (SHE CONTINUES TO TRAIN (WITH AN EYE TOWARDS TOKYO
2020.)

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