Indian sprinter Dutee Chand was banned from participating in the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Glasgow after tests had shown naturally occurring higher levels of testosterone in her body. Chand was just 18 at the time, and had won bronze in the 200 meters event at the 2013 Asian Athletics Championships.
Her promising career seemed to be in jeopardy and she appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) against the decision taken by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban her under its hyperandrogenism policy, which bars female athletes having higher level of male hormones from competitions.
Today, the final appeals court cleared her, saying that the natural level of testosterone in an athlete's body is not a reason to ban women from competing.
The court suspended the hyperandrogenism policy, and gave it two years to provide more scientific evidence that would conclusively prove that enhanced testosterone levels improved athletic performance.
"In the absence of such evidence, the CAS Panel was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category," the court's interim ruling said. The CAS, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, had earlier permitted Chand to compete pending its decision.
The IAAF's rules on hyperandrogenism will be declared void if no evidence is presented by the deadline.
The athletics governing body had framed this rule for female athletes in 2011, when South Africa's Caster Semenya won the 2009 world title in the 800-metres event. She was sidelined for almost a year and was later cleared by the IAAF after multiple gender tests. She went on to win a silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics.