Mumbai: Over the past few months, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been accused of sexism and racism for their new regulations applicable to female athletes. According to the new regulations, female athletes will only be allowed to participate in women's athletic events, from the 400m to the mile, if they meet certain criteria.
However, the IAAF does not have any such conditions for testosterone levels in men. This means that men with low testosterone levels and men with elevated levels of the same hormone can compete in the same events.
India's fastest woman and country's first openly gay sportsperson, Dutee Chand, feels that the ruling isn't doing any good for women sprinters. "No rules for men. But for women, there are so many tests to see why is your hormone count so high, how much is your body fat, how much is your height. They check everything. But not every human body can be the same," says Dutee, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games.
Over the last couple of weeks, Dutee experienced an emotional rollercoaster after revealing her relationship. There were mixed reactions from her fans and family. Dutee was motivated after all receiving overwhelming support from fans, many of whom applauded her bold admission. However, she also drew motivation from the hateful comments she received.
"When someone speaks ill of me, I feel a sense of jealousy from inside. I also get angry. I can't hit people with my hand, but I will do some things that will want people to try and hit me but they won't be able to. That's how I become strong. The more people speak badly about me, the more I focus on my training," she says with a wry smile.
However, this wasn't the first time she had to fight for the body she was born with. Before she came out, Dutee was barred from competing for almost a year in 2015 due to a high testosterone level caused by hyperandrogenism. But she challenged the (IAAF) rules and took her case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In a landmark ruling, the CAS suspended the IAAF's hyperandrogenism rules for two years.
Cut to the case of two-time Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya and the IAAF. Semenya's high testosterone level is a matter of concern for the world of athletics with many fellow athletes revolting against her participation, terming it 'unfair'. Funnily though, the CAS upheld the very same rules they suspended in 2015.
When asked about Semenya's case, Dutee said, "When it was announced, I spoke to Caster. I told her that if you need any help, my team will help you to fight the case. So with the help of my team, she appealed."
Recently, Semenya stated that she wouldn't take any drugs to lower her testosterone levels. Dutee agreed that it was the right decision by Semenya. "Absolutely. What is natural, we should stick to it and play with it. We play for the country, we don't run a personal business that we will take drugs and play. God will support us if we play honestly," says the 23-year-old.
"Development of a human body differs even from country to country. And athletes are made depending on that development. A lot of good athletes come out from countries like America and Jamaica. We can't even reach that level. But then they (IAAF) make these rules. So according to me, this is not good for us," she adds.
She also admitted that her training took a toll for a while after revealing to the world that she is in a same-sex relationship. "My training was disturbed a lot initially. I've already told everyone how much stress my sister gave me. I couldn't train properly at least for 10-15 days after that. But now, I'm starting to forget everything and getting back to my training," says Dutee.
The sprinter from Odisha didn't expect any reaction at all from the Indian public after coming out of the closet. "In India anyway, people follow traditions. They do not allow girls to go out. They will put the blame on the girls, and if anyone wants to do something good, they will stop them," she adds.
Dutee said she is looking forward to training in an academy in Florida to tweak her technique in 100 metres and is optimistic of getting funds from the government, saying, "I had planned to go to Florida but the government didn't provide the fund. That's why I didn't go. I plan to go next year and now I am training in Hyderabad."
When asked why she needed to change her technique, Dutee said, "100 metres is a technical event, so you have to focus on every detail. From start to finish. I have shortcomings at every stage. So I can get more exposure from those people (foreign trainers)."
"Basically, when I run, my body gets tight at the last moment. I still don't know why it happens. So, I will have to correct that," she explained.
The sprinter is also gearing up to take part in the World University Games to be held in Italy next month.