Let Dutee Run!

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Dutee Chand is a young Indian woman who dedicated her life to competing in elite athletics. Dutee became the national under-18 champion in the Women’s hundred metres event, in 2012, and was the first Indian to reach the finals at the World Youth Championships. Dutee went on, in 2013, to become the national champion in both the 100 and 200 metres events on the senior circuit, winning gold in both disciples at the National Senior Athletics Championships in Ranchi.

Dutee qualified to represent her country, and was all set to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, prior to the 2016 Olympics.

It never happened.

In July 2014, Dutee learned through media reports she had been withdrawn from competition by her national athletics authorities. Dutee discovered she was ineligible to compete under an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) policy that claims her natural testosterone levels are too high and give her unfair advantage. She is now no longer allowed to compete in national and international competitions.

The policy about hyperandrogenism was forged in the aftermath of the furore surrounding Caster Semenya. It is based on the presumption that high than usual levels of testosterone in women are the sole factor in boosting their performance. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. A clinical study commissioned by the IAAF said this about the policy:-

The lack of definitive research linking female hyperandrogenism and sporting performance is problematic and represents another central point of the controversy (9, 31). With the exception of data extracted from doping programs in female athletes in the former German Democratic Republic (7), there is no clear scientific evidence proving that a high level of T is a significant determinant of performance in female sports.

It needs to be constantly reiterated that Dutee and the other women who are being caught out by this new policy are not doping. These women are extraordinarily healthy young women. Their atypical testosterone levels are actually indicative of the great variation found in both men and women in throughout life.

The artificiality of the current boundaries was acknowledged in the same report:-

A hot point of discussion here concerned an independent expert medical panel recommending that the athlete is not eligible to compete in women’s competition if she has normal androgen sensitivity and serum T levels above the lower normal male range (10 nmol/L). This arbitrary definition was chosen in the absence of normative statistics of androgen levels in a high-level athlete female population.

There is no scientific evidence that endogenous testosterone alone, improves a female athletes performance. The adoption of the 10 n/mol level would prove positively harmful for some were it to be enforced. Women caught in this net are required to undergo hormone interventions to lower their normal levels to the artificial levels required by current policy. By implication this gives an insight into clinical thinking that drives medical interventions in intersex medicine toward women who are deemed to be not feminine enough.

Forcing otherwise healthy adults to take hormone-suppressing drugs or have surgery to limit how much testosterone her body produces as a condition of future permission to compete is without any scientific merit. Interventions of this kind ensure these women will be forever reliant on medical support. They also invite the prospect that these interventions will actually harm these women’s health.

Failure to accede to these automatically disqualify an athlete from future competition under current IAAF policies.

Dutee has chosen to challenge the decisions to ban her from competition. She filed an appeal to this charge with the CAS – the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland in September. Dutee is supported by the SAI – Sport Authority of India. A hearing date to hear Dutee’s appeal has not been set at the time of writing.

There is a petition at Change.org that people may sign to indicate their support for Dutee. It can be found here:-


There is also a website, where you can find more information about Dutee’s case:

Let Dutee Run!