Indian athlete Dutee Chand has been told by her national athletics body that she cannot compete in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games because a ‘gender test’ suggests she has high androgen levels, meaning she may be intersex.
The 18 year old sprinter, whose older sister is also a successful athlete, had been looking forward to competing in the 200m race when doubts were raised over her sex. Although further investigation would be needed to confirm that she falls outside accepted standards, India has chosen to keep her at home. In 2006 it had to give back a silver medal to the organisers of the Doha Asiad after one of its female runners turned out to have high testosterone levels, a situation which was seen at the time as an international embarrassment. The athlete concerned, Santhi Soundarajan, subsequently experienced severe depression and attempted to commit suicide, saying that public speculation about her sex had ruined her life.
Chand, who has already won two gold medals in international events, says she is “completely shattered” by what has happened. Born to a poor family in Jaipur, she worked her way up through local competitions to national success at the age of 16. “I am an athlete and wanted to bring glory to my country. All my efforts have gone astray,” she said. She has now pledged to undergo any available treatment that will enable her to return to athletics.