Dutee Chand in limbo again despite winning landmark CAS case
NEW DELHI (AP) Indian sprinter Dutee Chand won a landmark gender case last year in the Court of Arbitration for Sport that raised her hopes of competing in this year's Olympics, yet with less than six months to go until Rio de Janeiro 2016, she has been thrust back into a state of limbo.
The CAS had in July announced its decision to suspend the rules set by the IAAF - the governing body of track and field - which would have blocked women with high levels of male hormones from competing in Rio de Janeiro. The court gave the IAAF two years to prove that hyperandrogenism gave an advantage to women athletes; a timeframe that suggested there would no revision before Rio.
But last month the International Olympic Committee urged the IAAF and other sport organizations to return to the court ''with arguments and evidence to support the reinstatement of its hyperandrogenism rules.''
''The IOC statement puts Dutee and many other female athletes in a world of uncertainty in advance of the Olympics,'' said Payoshni Mitra, the gender activist who has lobbied for Chand's reinstatement to competition.
The 20-year-old Chand, who was pulled out of the team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and also missed the Asian Games owing to hyperandrogenism rules before being allowed to compete again by the CAS, last week won a bronze medal in the 60-meter event at the Asian Indoor Championships in Doha but is yet to qualify for the Olympics.
''We have asked the IAAF if it plans to go back to the CAS before the Games, but have had no response. This is an unacceptable state of affairs less than six months before the opening ceremony. Athletes should be focused on their training and not worried about whether a regulation will emerge at the last minute that might jeopardize their ability to compete,'' Mitra told The Associated Press.
Mitra feels such policies have repeatedly harmed women athletes and the fact that the IOC also suggested that they compete with men in case of hyperandrogenism was creating a new debate.
''The CAS arbitration panel clearly stated that Dutee is a woman. It was never a matter for debate. But now the IOC releases a statement that says women with naturally elevated testosterone should compete in the male category. This confuses an issue that is not confusing and in respect of which there is no debate,'' she added.
Mitra hopes the IOC will refrain from introducing hyperandrogenism regulations at the Rio Games or else Chand's legal team would be left with no option but to approach the CAS again.
Chand says she is just as anxious as she was before the CAS verdict.
''The IOC's new statement asks for reinstatement of the regulations that the sports court suspended,'' Chand said in a statement. ''Also, I have heard the IOC may put its own rules in place for Rio that might prevent me from being eligible to compete. I want to know whether the IOC will have such a rule at Rio.''