Indian sprinter blasts ‘wrong’ testosterone ruling

India's Dutee Chand has offered help to South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya over new rules on testosterone announced this week.
AFP

New Delhi (AFP) – Indian sprinter Dutee Chand said track and field’s new rules on women’s testosterone levels were “wrong” and offered legal help to Olympic champion Caster Semenya to help her fight back.

Chand, who won a court battle for her right to compete with a hormonal imbalance, said she was relieved to have avoided falling under the regulations, which only cover distances between 400m and one mile.

But she criticised this week’s International Association of Athletics Federations ruling, which has been interpreted as targeting Semenya, a middle-distance specialist.

“I am happy and relieved after four years of uncertainty but I feel for athletes like Semenya. I strongly believe the current rules are also wrong,” Chand told AFP by telephone from Hyderabad.

“I have offered Semenya my legal team if she needs. I have emailed her offering my support and help.”

South Africa’s Semenya has long attracted debate because of her powerful physique related to hyperandrogenism, the medical condition which causes women to produce high levels of male sex hormones.

The issue of hyperandrogenism is controversial because it pits principles of fair competition against the rights of women born with the condition.

The new rules say that women with high levels of naturally occurring testosterone can only compete if they take medication to reduce them.

The ruling covers events from 400m to the mile because the IAAF’s medical and science department says it has data showing an advantage for hyperandrogenous athletes over such distances.

But South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has blasted the new regulations as unjust and racist and urged the Pretoria government to challenge them in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Semenya, 27, is the reigning world and Olympic champion over 800m and won the 800-1,500m double at this month’s Commonwealth Games.

Chand, who competes in the 100m and 200m, took her case to the CAS after she was barred from the 2014 Commonwealth Games by the Athletics Federation of India over her hyperandrogenism.

Now cleared for competition, the 22-year-old is keen to make up for lost time at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I lost crucial years of my career when I could not focus on my training and initially (in 2014) lost six months which is a significant time in a sportsperson’s life,” said Chand.

“I missed three big competitions like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the junior World Athletics Championships when I was just 18 and raring to make a mark.

“A medal in the Olympics is what I dream of. Also I missed participating in Commonwealth Games, so will target the 2022 edition in Birmingham.”

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