In a landmark judgement that could have far-reaching implications, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) cleared Indian sprinter Dutee Chand to compete in national and international athletics events.
The CAS panel, comprising Justice Annabelle Claire Bennett, Professor Richard H McLaren and Dr Hans Nater, suspended the athletics world governing body International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) hyperandrogenism regulations, which bar athletes with enhanced testosterone levels, such as Chand, from competing in the women’s category.
While delivering the judgement, the panel said, "IAAF regulation governing eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism to compete in women’s competition is suspended for a maximum two years in order to give the IAAF the opportunity to provide CAS with scientific evidence about the quantitative relationship between enhanced testosterone levels and improved athletic performance in hyperandrogenic athletes." The CAS asked IAAF to submit evidence within the two-year period, failing which hyperandrogenism regulations would be declared void.
Dutee, 19, was relieved as the judgement also means an end to the trauma that started with tests in July last year that barred her from all competition, starting with the Commonwealth Games. "I am happy with the judgement. The wait was too much, like waiting for exam results," Dutee told HT from Hyderabad. "The judgement will also help athletes who have a situation like me," she added.
The judgement also justifies the stand taken by the sports ministry and Sports Authority of India in the testing controversy.
Ahead of Dutee’s hearing, the ministry withdrew its standard operating procedure (SOP) to determine the eligibility of women athletes. Dutee ignored medical intervention, and instead chose to knock CAS’ door. "Very few people thought we would win. I remember people telling me that we were trying something that will never happen. With the ministry and SAI supporting something like this is unprecedented," said Payoshini Mitra, researcher and activist dealing with gender issues in sport, who has been with Dutee ever since the controversy erupted.