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Zambia’s captain ruled ineligible for Cup of Nations by “gender verification” tests

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Barbra Banda, a rising star in women’s football and the captain of Zambia’s national team, was ruled ineligible for this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations by “gender verification” tests, according to Zambian soccer authorities and multiple reports.

Banda, a 22-year-old forward, scored two hat tricks at last summer’s Olympics and has excelled for her Chinese club, Shanghai Shengli. But she was mysteriously “unavailable” for Zambia’s women’s AFCON opener on Sunday due to what Zambia’s soccer federation (FAZ) called “medical reasons.”

Reports soon emerged that pre-tournament tests had revealed natural testosterone levels that exceeded limits set by governing bodies. Andrew Kamanga, the FAZ president, said in a statement Wednesday that the rules are those of the African soccer confederation, CAF, and in line with regulations developed by FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.

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CAF has distanced itself from Banda’s ineligibility, and did not respond to Yahoo Sports’ request for comment. But Kamanga told BBC Sport Africa: “All the players had to undergo gender verification, a CAF requirement, and unfortunately she did not meet the criteria set by CAF.”

An official CAF document requires team physicians to attest that players have “been examined … to verify their gender,” and that the players “do not show any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics and are therefore presumed to be of female gender.”

In 2011, FIFA outlined similar “gender verification” regulations that required soccer federations to “actively investigat[e] any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics” — which are physical traits typically associated with one sex but not directly involved in reproduction.

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