Indian sprinter Dutee Chand won the right to compete in track and field after international sports officials said her testosterone levels were too high and barred her from competition.
After failing a hormone test mandated by the International Association for Athletics Federation in 2014, Chand was found to have hyperandrogenism. That is a condition where one’s body has a natural presence of abnormally high levels of testosterone.
Instead of undergoing the required medical treatment to decrease her testosterone levels as female athletes have done in the past, Chand challenged the legal validity of the hyperandrogenism rules in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“What I had to face last year was not fair. I have a right to run and compete. But that right was taken away from me,” Chand, now 19, said in a statement released by her lawyers. “I was humiliated for something that I can’t be blamed for. I am glad that no other female athlete will have to face what I have faced, thanks to this verdict.”
The CAS ruled on Monday that the IAAF failed to prove that women with naturally high levels of testosterone had a competitive edge, and has suspended hyperandrogenism rules pending new evidence that links higher amounts of testosterone to improved athletic performance.
With the court’s ruling in place, Chand was cleared to compete, and the IAAF now has until 2017 to present new scientific evidence to support its claim of hormones and competitiveness. If no evidence is found, the IAAF’s rules on hyperandrogenism will be declared void.
Following the hearing, the IAAF issued a press release that it will meet The IAAF will meet with its experts and International Olympic Committee to determine next steps in the process.
Chand and other hyperandrogenic women can now participate in international competitions, which may include the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Not all female athletes were in favor of the ruling.
British runner Paula Radcliffe testified in support of the IAAF, the New York Times reported.
“The concern remains that their bodies respond in different, stronger ways to training and racing than women with normal testosterone levels, and that this renders the competition fundamentally unfair.” Radcliffe also said that higher testosterone levels “make the competition unequal in a way greater than simple natural talent and dedication.”
The IAAF in 2011 began requiring female athletes to undergo medical testing to show that they have a testosterone level at the lower end of the male range. This was after South African 800-meter runner Caster Semenya was sidelined in 2009 after winning the world title in Berlin.
The ruling was specifically made for track and field’s rules, but the court’s jurisdiction is likely to serve as a precedent for other global sports.
The court stated after the hearing that “Nature is not neat.”
“Although athletics are divided into discrete male and female categories, sex in humans is not simply binary. As it was put during the hearing: ‘Nature is not neat.’ There is no single determinant of sex,” the court said, according to the New York Times.