MADURAI: The recent judgment of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspending the ‘Hyperandrogenism Regulations’ in the case of Indian athlete Dutee Chand has given a new lease of hope for Santhi Soundarajan, who was unceremoniously disqualified after she failed a gender test in the aftermath of winning a silver medal in the 800-metres event at the 2006 Asian Games.
“I am really happy for Dutee. I hope I too will get justice and my medals will be returned. I am eager to compete in athletic events again,” said Santhi, a Dalit from Kathakurichi in Pudukottai.
While the judgment enables the 18-year-old Dutee Chand, who was disqualified last year after she tested positive for Hyperandrogenism, to compete in athletics again, whether the judgment will have a similar positive impact on Santhi’s career is unclear.
Santhi, is however confident that the CAS judgment vindicates that the treatment meted out to her was unfair. “I want to approach the government citing the recent judgment. But everywhere I go, my attempts are being stonewalled,” She said.
The landmark judgment by CAS, the international body to settle disputes in sport, has said that the assertion by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) that Hyperandrogenism (excessive levels of androgen hormones like testosterone) in a woman athlete gives her an unfair competitive advantage over other females is not scientifically-sound.
CAS has given two years time to International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) to come up with scientific evidence to conclusively prove its assertion, failing which it said the ‘Hyperandrogenism Regulations’ will be removed forever.
“There is no doubt that what happened to Santhi was extremely unfair and unfortunate. Having said that, the Hyperandrogenism Regulations that has been suspended now by the CAS was introduced only in 2011 much before Santhi was disqualified in 2006. So, the question of whether the recent judgment will directly apply to Santhi has to be analysed more thoroughly,” said Dr Payoshni Mitra, a research consultant on gender issues in sport and one who had previously worked with Santhi besides assisting Dutee in her fight.
M Gopi Shankar of Shrishti Madurai Student Volunteer Educational Research Foundation, who is currently helping Santhi in her battle, said that the CAS judgment is an indication that the gender is an extremely complex issue with many grey areas and that the present methods used by sporting bodies are clearly inadequate.
He regretted the Indian authorities’ failure to back Santhi to the hilt in her struggle.