India might have saved itself a huge embarrassment by pulling out promising sprinter Dutee Chand from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games athletics squad at the last moment as she failed a gender-hormone test, but the incident points to a serious malaise that hogs sports in our country. That we have not evolved as a sporting nation despite being the second most populous and the youngest is another matter. We have failed to nurture, protect and prepare a few talents that have emerged through the inadequacies. The case of Dutee Chand exemplifies the very failings of the sports administration system.
The 18-year-old burst into the scene in 2012 making her mark in sprints and was heralded as the next P T Usha. She was shortlisted for the athletics squad for the relay event in Glasgow but was excluded from the final team for high androgen levels in her blood that disqualify her from competing in female events. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has, however, said the androgen levels can be brought down by medical help and the athlete would still be able to compete in female category in future.
The issue raises serious questions on handling of athletes by the administrators. The SAI has said the test was carried out on Dutee only on the basis of suspicion. Her condition couldn’t have developed overnight. If there was a system of continuous medical monitoring of athletes, her case could have been detected much earlier and treated as she spent three months for training with probables. Sadly, in our country where even anti-dope tests are not available at majority of the sporting events, seeking systematic health monitoring of every athlete is too much to ask for. The government also seems to have not learnt lessons even after former track star Pinki Pramanik was medically found to be genetically a male in 2012. It is high time the government took care of all aspects of all athletes by an institutionalised mechanism from the grassroots.