Sad for Semenya, IAAF’s wrong policy on hyperandrogenism caused her loss: Dutee Chand

Having been through a humiliating gender row, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand Thursday said she feels sad for South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya, blaming her loss in the Court of Arbitration (CAS) on the “wrong” policies of athletics’ world governing body.

Dutee, who fought and won a long legal battle over her own hyperandrogenism or elevated levels of male sex hormones, said the South African star athlete is suffering due to IAAF’s stance.

“As soon as I heard the news I felt sad for Semenya. My mind went back to those nearly two years which were my worst days when I did not know what to do. But Semenya has been facing this for quite a long time (since 2009) and so it is not a sudden thing. I think and hope she will be able to face this better than me,” Dutee, who competes in 100m and 200m events, told PTI.

On Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for Sport in Lausanne dismissed Semenya’s appeal against International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) rules which require female athletes with higher testosterone levels to regulate their condition.

The decision means that women with elevated testosterone will have to take suppressive treatment or medication if they wish to compete as females in 400m, 800m and 1500m.

“This is a wrong policy of the IAAF and whatever reason they are giving, it is wrong. I fought my case and I won but now Semenya and some others are at the receiving end,” she added.

“I don’t know what she will do, whether she will take medication (to reduce testosterone level) I cannot say. Whether to file appeal/review she and her team will be able to say. I feel for her and I feel this policy of the IAAF should be completely done away with,” Dutee, who won 100m and 200m silver at last year’s Asian Games — her first major event since returning to competition, said.

Semenya, the 800m Olympic title winner in 2012 and 2016, was fighting measures imposed by the IAAF that compel “hyperandrogenic” athletes — or those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD) — to lower their testosterone levels if they wish to compete as women.

Subjected to humiliating gender-testing as a teenager, Dutee was finally cleared to compete last year after winning a court appeal against IAAF regulations.

“I have no problem now (under rules that have been changed) as I run in 100m and 200m. IAAF rules now apply to 400m, 800m and 1500m only,” she said.

Asked if she thought Semenya can win international medals by running races of longer distances like 5000m, Dutee said: “It can be difficult because to win international medals you need to prepare at least three-four years and she is not getting younger.”

Semenya raced in the 5000m event in a national competition in South Africa and won the top honours.

Dutee had successfully challenged the IAAF’s stance on hyperandrogenism, prompting the world body to change its rules to target only middle-distance events, arguing those were most affected by elevated testosterone levels.

The IAAF insisted that the rules were necessary to have a level-playing field and ensure that all female athletes can see “a path to success”.

Semenya was backed by a global coalition of nations and scientific experts who argued that testosterone is an arbitrary and unfair measure for determining gender.