Dutee Chand, the female athlete with too much testosterone

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on October 10th, 2020
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Dutee Chand, the Indian athlete who is fighting the IAAF. Photo: Graham Crouch/The New York Times

Dutee Chand loves her body just the way it is. She loves her long, dark hair, which is often pulled back into a tight ponytail, and the toned biceps she likes to show off with tank tops. As a young teenager, she was dismayed that her body lacked curves, but now, at 18, she loves that, too. She believes that the body she was born with - every chromosome, cell and organ - makes her the woman she is.

But to compete internationally as a female sprinter, that is not enough.

Last summer, Chand, India's 100-metre champion in the 18-and-under category, was barred from competing against women. She has what is called hyperandrogenism, a condition in which her body produces natural levels of testosterone so high that they place her in the male range in the eyes of international track and field.

South African middle distance runner Caster Semenya was barred and then reinstated. Photo: AFP

Following a rule by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which is the sport's governing body, the Athletics Federation of India will allow Chand to return to competition if she lowers her testosterone level beneath the male range. She can do that by either taking hormone-suppressing drugs or by having surgery to limit how much testosterone her body produces.

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Her response? No way.

"I feel that it's wrong to have to change your body for sport participation," she said last month, in Hindi, through an interpreter. "I'm not changing for anyone."

The blade runner: Oscar Pistorius of South Africa fought to compete at the London Olympics with carbon-fibre prosthetic legs. Photo: Reuters

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Dutee Chand, the female athlete with too much testosterone

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