Never miss a great news story!
Get instant notifications from Economic Times
AllowNot now


You can switch off notifications anytime using browser settings.
11,914.40-54.0
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

What's with the gender inequality? Dutee Chand talks about the tests female athletes face before competing

In 2014, she was banned from competing due to high testosterone levels.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 19, 2019, 08.44 AM IST
0Comments
Agencies
Chand1
Dutee also rued the disproportionate checks female athletes are subject to.
Dutee Chand is running a course few Indian athletes have. The professional sprinter’s personal life may have hijacked her professional achievements, but that hasn’t derailed her from her aim for the time being.

Dutee Chand, inured to life in the fast lane, has found herself caught in the headlights. The Odisha-born athlete, who currently holds the national record in the women’s 100m sprint, admitted to being in a same-sex relationship last month.

The announcement, which makes her the first openly homosexual athlete in India, drew plaudits from equality advocates, but brickbats from her family — most notably, her sister Saraswati, who has accused her of being misled and blackmailed into a relationship at great cost to her career.

Coming out
“Initially, my training was disturbed a lot. My sister has given me a lot of stress,” she said at a recent event in Mumbai. “I couldn’t train properly for 10-15 days after talking about my relationship. But now, I have put that behind me, and am getting back to training for the World University Games in Naples [next month].”

Dutee, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, is not new to controversy. In 2014, she was effectively banned from competing as a female because of high testosterone levels in her body, a clinical condition called ‘hyperandrogenism’. Dutee, then 18, appealed the verdict at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and won a landmark case, setting a precedent for other athletes facing contentious bans.

“I felt that people might speak ill of me after I spoke about my relationship. I was afraid that it would affect my performance, like what happened in 2014. Fortunately, there has been no such thing. The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI) have been supportive. They said it was my private life,” she said.

Dutee Chand
Dutee, who had her sexuality questioned over the high testosterone levels, has been more fortunate than peers like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who recently lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) on similar grounds


Family matters
Dutee hails from a family of weavers in Odisha’s Chaka Gopalpur village. She was initially not interested in athletics. But the lure of a government job was hard to shun. Her sister, Saraswati, a kabaddi player-turned-runner, helped her take baby steps on the track. However, Saraswati has turned against Dutee since the controversy broke out.

“Chota mota jhagda toh hota hai [Small fights are inevitable in families],” Dutee said, reiterating that it was impossible to live on other people’s terms. “In India, tradition is paramount. Husband-wife relationship is okay. They do not allow girls to go out.”

Extending support

The 23-year-old is a vocal advocate of the athletes’ rights over their bodies. Dutee, who had her sexuality questioned over the high testosterone levels, has been more fortunate than peers like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who recently lost her case against the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) on similar grounds. “If higher testosterone levels are naturally occurring, then it is wrong for authorities to tell athletes to bring down their hormonal levels through corrective treatment as it would be unnatural for their bodies,” she said.

Dutee also rued the disproportionate checks female athletes are subject to. “There are no rules for men but for women there are so many tests: Why is your hormone count so high? How much is your body fat? But every human body cannot be the same, can it?” she said.

Love Is Love: Dutee Chand Isn't Alone; Other Sports Stars Who Came Out Of The Closet

of 10
Next
Prev
Play Slideshow

​Leaving The Closet Behind

29 May, 2019
By Anika Ghei The road to acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community has not been one of ease, yet gradual but significant strides are being made towards becoming a more inclusive society. An increasing number of people are now sharing their 'coming out' stories, and are often met with heartwarming reactions. This trend also prevails in India, wherein recently, Dutee Chand, a professional sprinter came out about her same-sex relationship. Being India’s first openly gay athlete, she regarded the ruling on section 377 as an impetus for her to take her relationship forward ;thereby, becoming an icon for India’s LGBT+ population. The current national champion in the women's 100 metres event, Chand remains firm in her resolve to fight for the right to marry the love of her life, and hopes to exact change in a society that is still rife with stigma. However, Dutee's story isn't isolated in its occurrence. The world of sports has seen several athletes who have become an inspiration by publicly reclaiming their sexual identities. In Pic: (clockwise from left) Dutee Chand, Billie Jean King (Instagram), Justin Fashanu (twitter/albionroar).
Next

Want stories like this in your inbox? Sign up for the daily ET Panache newsletter.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Also Read

Dutee Chand on TIME 100 Next list; Naveen Patnaik says Odisha is proud

Dutee Chand wins 100m gold at World University Games

Sprinter Dutee Chand takes inspiration from 'sarpanch' mother, says she wants to have a political run

Dutee Chand sprints her way to glory, bags gold medal at World University Games

Comments
Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.
Download The Economic Times Business News App for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.

Other useful Links


Follow us on


Download et app


Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service