Indian gender-row sprinter Dutee Chand on Thursday said Caster Semenya’s court defeat over testosterone rules was “wrong”, but backed the Olympic 800 metres champion to overcome the potentially far-reaching ruling.
Chand, who fought and won a long battle over her own hyperandrogenism, or elevated levels of male sex hormones, said she felt sorry for the South African star, whose career has been plagued by controversy.
“This is wrong. I feel sad for her, she has been made to suffer like me,” Chand, 23, told AFP.
Chand, who was subjected to humiliating gender-testing as a teenager, was finally cleared to compete last year after winning a court appeal against International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) regulations.
Chand successfully challenged the IAAF’s stance on hyperandrogenism, prompting the world governing body to change its rules to target only middle-distance events, arguing these were most affected by elevated testosterone.
But on Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne dismissed Semenya’s appeal against the IAAF measures, triggering an angry response in South Africa.
The decision means that women with elevated testosterone will have to take suppressive treatment if they wish to compete as females in certain events.
To defend her title at the world championships in September, Semenya, 28, will now have to take medication, probably including birth control pills. She is now weighing an appeal.
Chand, who won 100m and 200m silver at last year’s Asian Games, her first major event since returning to competition, was hopeful that Semenya’s legal team will find a way to succeed.
“It was my legal team that handled her case. The team that fought my case, I handed them over to Caster Semenya,” Chand said.
“I think she and her team will find a way out. She is an Olympic medallist and her country is behind her.”
The CAS ruling raised several concerns about the IAAF regulations, calling them “discriminatory” and questioning their implementation, as well as the lack of evidence proving an advantage from higher testosterone levels.
“See this (the condition) is natural. To increase and decrease testosterones is not in our hand. Now medical scientists can guide her,” said Chand.
“But she is not poor like me and is well known with a lot of money and resources,” said Chand, who was born in rural poverty.
The court decision drew anger from officials and fans in South Africa, whose minister for women, Bathabile Dlamini, called it “the violation of her rights as human being”.
Semenya, who won the 800m Olympic title in 2012 and 2016, vowed to “once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world”.