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Indian sprinter Dutee Chand wins major victory for intersex and gender inclusion

The Court of Arbitration for Sport struck down the use of testosterone levels for preventing athletes from participating as women in sports.

Women's 200 meters respective silver and bronze medal winners from India Asha Roy (R) and Dutee Chand wave to the crowd after their race on the fifth and the final day of the Asian Athletics Championship 2013 at the Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium.
Women's 200 meters respective silver and bronze medal winners from India Asha Roy (R) and Dutee Chand wave to the crowd after their race on the fifth and the final day of the Asian Athletics Championship 2013 at the Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium.
Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

A major victory for inclusion in sport came down from the Court of Arbitration in Sport this week as testosterone levels in female athletes was struck down as a key determining factor for participation in women's sports. The decision involves an Indian sprinter - Dutee Chand - who won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2013 Asian Championships.

John Branch wrote for the New York Times:

The final appeals court for global sports further blurred the line separating male and female athletes on Monday, ruling that a common factor in distinguishing the sexes — the level of natural testosterone in an athlete's body — is insufficient to bar some women from competing against females.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland, questioned the athletic advantage of naturally high levels of testosterone in women and therefore immediately suspended the practice of "hyperandrogenism regulation" by track and field's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Katrina Karkazisis a cultural and medical anthropologist and bioethicist at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University School of Medicine, who has worked extensively on intersex issues. She was part of the team that brought forward the ruling.

Karkazis told Outsports:

"I'm absolutely thrilled with this decision, but also very surprised by it. I knew we had a strong case, but there are so many culturally entrenched ideas about testosterone—that it is a "male hormone," that it doesn't belong in women—I knew we were up against those ideas too, and I wasn't sure that we could overcome them.

"I learned about Dutee Chand last July after her name was leaked to the Indian press as someone being investigated under these policies. That day I contacted Payoshni Mitra, whom I had known from this work, and Bruce Kidd, former Canadian Olympian and women's sports advocate. From that point forward we began figuring out how to help Dutee challenge a rule she felt was unfair to herself and to all women athletes.

"There was no roadmap for how to do this so we tried many things, including a change.org petition. Finally, we learned she could bring an appeal. Her lawyers Jim Bunting and Carlos Sayao were phenomenal. They knew nothing about this issue, but dove right in with a zeal that matched ours. It's been a lot of work over the last year, but our team was so committed. Dutee was so brave, we knew we had to give it everything. She fought not just for herself, but for all women athletes. Her win is for them too."

Sports are designed to build bridges and understanding, not erect barriers. This is another powerful step toward inclusion in sport.