The final appeals court for global sports has ruled that a 19-year-old Indian sprinter named Dutee Chand cannot be barred from competing against other females, in spite of her high levels of natural testosterone. The landmark ruling also applies to all other female athletes with so-called “hyperandrogenism.” According to the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federation—track and field’s governing body—female athletes’ blood testosterone must measure less than 10 nanometers per liter, due to concerns that high levels of the hormone may give women an unfair advantage on the field. If a female athlete exceeds that limit, she is expected to undergo hormonal treatment or surgery to reduce her body’s natural production of testosterone.
Because of her hyperandrogenism, Chand was banned from competing against female athletes in 2014. Rather than accept the status quo, she appealed the decision and took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. The Court ruled in Chand’s favor since it was unable to conclude that high testosterone levels definitively confer unfair advantages to women athletes. The case has sparked conversations about the murky nature of the gender spectrum, which cannot always be divided neatly between males and females—particularly when it comes to women athletes.
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