The Current

Dutee Chand wins case for high testosterone female athletes

Sprinter Dutee Chand's dreams were dashed when she was barred from competition because her body naturally produces high levels of testosterone. She challenged the rules and this week won a landmark case. We hear from Dutee Chand and explore the race to rethink sex, gender and sport.
Sprinter Dutee Chand has naturally high levels of testosterone and when she failed a hormone test, she was banned from competing in sport. But this week Dutee Chand scored a major victory and has been cleared to race again. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

A year after she failed a hormone test and was banned from competing, 19-year-old Indian sprinter Dutee Chand scored a major victory on Monday. She's been cleared to race once again.

But her win raises as many questions as answers for the sports world. 

Dutee Chand has naturally high levels of testosterone. But rather than submit to surgeries or drugs, she challenged the rules that kept her from competing against other women. On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport released its decision agreeing with her. And it is a landmark decision for global amateur sport.

The Current spoke with Dutee Chand yesterday about the decision. 

"I knew a victory and a suspension of this regulation would mean that many other female athletes would benefit from this decision." - Dutee Chand ​
Sprinter Dutee Chand has won her right to compete and has pushed forward the conversation about sports and gender rules. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

In essence, sport's highest court has lifted the International Association of Athletics Federation's so-called "hyperandrogenism" regulations -- saying more proof is needed that elevated testosterone gives women an unfair advantage. In practice, it means that Dutee Chand and other women like her can compete again.

This decision is not without controversy. The womens' marathon champ, Paula Radcliffe, was among those testifying in favour of the existing rules. But for now, Dutee Chand has her sights set back on the track... and the upcoming Olympics. 

Dutee Chand was represented at the tribunal by the Toronto lawfirm Davies Ward Phillips Vineberg, and her lawyer Jim Bunting who worked on the case joined us in studio. 

We did contact the I.A.A.F. for comment, but have yet to hear back.

When it comes to this week's decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, it wasn't just the runner Dutee Chand under examination -- it was testosterone itself, as a way used to distinguish between men and women. 

Katrina Karkazis is a Bioethecist at Stanford University who testified in Dutee Chand's case on her behalf. She joined us from San Francisco, California.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sonya Buyting, Shannon Higgins and Ines Colabrese. 


♦ Dutee Chand: I lost my honour in landmark case - BBC
♦ IAAF suspends 'gender test' rules - BBC
♦ Female Sprinter Wins Right to Compete - NY Times
♦ Despite Dutee Chand's Triumph, Issue Isn't Over - NY Times