After being subjected to immense humiliation, getting dropped out of big sporting events for failing a hyperandrogenism test, getting scrutinized and judged by media and people of the country, the career of the once fastest female runner of the country should have been in ashes by now, but Dutee Chand proved to be a phoenix.
She made a roaring comeback and won silver at Women’s 100m at the Asian Games 2018, missing gold by 0.02sec.
The traumatic memories of her last few years were floating in front of her eyes even seconds before she was about to begin the race but she turned all of it to fuel her to give her best shot at the grand stage. With her win, Dutee Chand ended India’s 20 years medal drought in Women’s 100m race.
Dutee was suspended by the IAAF for failing a hyperandrogenism test right before the Commonwealth Games 2014, when she was in a smashing form and breaking national records.
Her dream to win a medal for the country at the sporting event was shattered. Sports Authority of India issued a statement saying that a gender test was done on a female athlete in Bengaluru and her name has been deleted from the Commonwealth Games list.
Media pounced on the news and within no time Dutee’s name was flashing on all news channels and newspapers. A star athlete had suddenly become a laughing stock in front of the nation.
Within no time, SAI realized the grave error they had made by using the term gender test. They clarified later that the test showed Dutee’s natural testosterone level was higher than the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) threshold of 10nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) set for women in April 2011. A higher level of androgens—mostly testosterone—is described as hyperandrogenism (HA).
Dutee was shocked by the sudden turn of events and felt cheated as her privacy was breached. The verdict was announced and Dutee kept wondering what was her fault as she had toiled hard for years to compete on international level. Dutee claimed that all tests were conducted on her without her consent and she had no clue about any such tests being done on her.
The damage was huge for Dutee who was being called a boy and not a girl. She was told her journey as an athlete has finished. She was just 18 then.
Though initially shattered, Dutee picked herself up with the support of her well-wishers, she filed an appeal in the Sports Tribunal against IAAF’s decision to ban her. Her case was given a proper hearing and after a long battle, she won the legal battle.
Dutee was back on track but this time she had a mission, a point to prove to the world. She practiced harder than before, as she wanted to get her lost form back. And in her first Asian Games appearance post the harrowing incident, Dutee ran like an unbelievable force on track and nailed it with silver.
After winning silver medal, the 22-year-old athlete said, “2014 was a very bad year for me. People said many things about me. The same girl today came back and won a medal for the country, it is really big achievement for me.”
She further added, “In the semifinals, the first 20m, I did not push much and coach pointed out that ‘you have to make a better beginning’. So, in the final, I rushed the first 40m. I was running with eyes closed, whether medal comes or not, I wanted to better my timing.”
“When I opened my eyes, the race was over. I did not know what has happened. People said you have won a medal, but I did not believe, I did not pick flag until I saw the result on display screen.”
Take a bow champion for your iron-like determination and unbeatable courage to not give up.