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CAS blocks IAAF rules on female athletes with high testosterone levels

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- In a victory for individual athletes over governing bodies, sport's highest court has suspended IAAF rules governing women who have high levels of male hormones.

The rules requiring some female athletes to get medical clearance were introduced in 2011, after South African 800-meter runner Caster Semenya was sidelined for almost a year after winning the 2009 world title when she was 18.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday the world athletics body failed to prove that women with naturally high levels of testosterone had a competitive edge.

"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 in an appeal brought by sprinter Dutee Chand of India.

Chand was cleared to compete by the court, which gave the IAAF body until July 24, 2017, to present new scientific evidence.

The IAAF's rules on hyperandrogenism -- or the presence of high levels of testosterone -- will be declared void if no evidence is presented by the deadline.

Responding Monday, the athletics body said the rules were passed after "a lengthy and comprehensive consultation" with the International Olympic Committee.

"The IAAF will now meet as soon as possible with its experts and with the IOC and its experts to discuss how best to address this interim ruling," it said in a statement.

Chand, now 19, appealed to CAS after India's athletics body barred her from competition last year, forcing her to miss the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

She challenged the legal validity of the IAAF's rules rather than undergo medical treatment.

CAS had previously let Chand run in international events pending a verdict.

In its interim ruling published Monday, the court panel of three lawyers said officials at the Monaco-based governing body had acted with good intentions.

"The panel wishes to reiterate that its conclusion does not reflect any bad faith or incompetence on the part of the IAAF," the ruling said.

"This particular decision deals solely with the IAAF regulation, but there are other similar regulations in sports, including for the Olympics," Chand's attorney, Jim Butting, told ESPN. "The decision should have some significant implications for all these other regulations. And what the court has said is these policies simply aren't necessary and don't do what they are intended to do."

In the Semenya case, she was eventually cleared by the IAAF to return to competition, and won a silver medal in the 800 at the 2012 London Olympics.

The court's 161-page ruling noted that the IAAF has dealt with other athletes under the hyperandrogenism rules since April 2011. The exact number was redacted in the document.

"None of the athletes involved has ever been named in the press as the subject of an investigation," the ruling stated.

Stanford bioethicist Katrina Karkazis, an expert on sex testing policies, worked closely with Chand during the hearing process; Karkazis said this ruling could create a domino effect across sports. The IAAF's policy is the same as the one adopted by the International Olympic Committee; in fact, the IAAF and IOC developed the policy in conjunction with one another. The IOC meets in November to review its policies in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"Given this decision by the sport board, the IOC is likely going to have to reconsider its policy as well," Karkazis told ESPN. "And then once that's done, groups like FIFA, rugby, rowing will also have to consider changing or voiding their policies."

Information from ESPN's Kate Fagan and The Associated Press was used in this report.