Female Sprinter Fights Ban—Over Her Testosterone

Sprinter Dutee Chand doesn't want to change her natural body to compete
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2014 8:27 AM CDT
Female Sprinter Fights Ban—Over Her Testosterone
American sprinter Torri Edwards practices in this 2008 file photo. Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is fighting a ban over her naturally high testosterone levels.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Indian sprinter Dutee Chand was born with what may be a blessing and a curse: hyperandrogenism. The medical condition results in unusually high levels of testosterone—high enough, in fact, that it crosses the threshold for what determines whether one can compete against women. She is fighting the International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body that set the limit, on the grounds that she shouldn't have to undergo surgery or drug treatment—which can have lasting negative effects, reports Slate—to change her natural body, which is unquestionably female.

"I feel that it’s wrong to have to change your body for sport participation," she tells the New York Times through an interpreter. "In some societies, they used to cut off the hand of people caught stealing. I feel like this is the same kind of primitive, unethical rule." The rule, which one policymaker admits is an "imperfect solution," was made in an attempt to differentiate men from women since, when it comes to chromosomes and genitalia, that line can be blurry. But naturally high testosterone has yet to be proved as an athletic advantage, and Chand argues that "it's all about training." The Olympic hopeful and government-sponsored athlete, who supports her family as a runner, has been sidelined while she fights the ban. She says she plans to coach if the ban holds. (Michael Phelps, meanwhile, is being punished by his sport for a much more clear-cut reason.)

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