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Zambia captain ruled ineligible due to ‘gender verification’ tests

Barbra Banda (11) competed in last year’s Olympics. (Ayaka Naito/AFP via Getty Images)

Barbra Banda, the captain of the Zambia women’s national soccer team, has been ruled ineligible for the Africa Cup of Nations after “gender verification” tests revealed natural testosterone levels above those allowed by the Confederation of African Football, according to ESPN’s Ed Dove.

“All the players had to undergo gender verification, a CAF requirement, and unfortunately she did not meet the criteria set by CAF,” Andrew Kamanga, the president of Zambia’s soccer federation, told BBC Sport Africa. “It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves going into the tournament without our best players.”

The 22-year-old played in last year’s Olympics, becoming the first player to score back-to-back hat tricks in the tournament. After the Olympics, though, the Zambian federation was informed that Banda’s testosterone levels were outside CAF guidelines, which follow those developed by FIFA, according to officials.

In the aftermath of Banda being ruled ineligible for the Cup of Nations, conflicting reports have emerged over whether Banda took hormone-suppressing medication to try to meet the requirements.

BBC Sport Africa reported that Banda was included on the Cup of Nations roster after taking medication to reduce her testosterone levels, but she did not meet the limits for the tournament. Per ESPN, though, the communications director for Zambia’s soccer federation said Banda and several other players declined treatment.

“With the players not going down that route and taking up that option, the final decision was that they could not be included in the final list for the competition,” communications director Sydney Mungala said.

During Sunday’s opener, Banda was listed as “unavailable” for “medical reasons.”

She was one of four players omitted from the roster due to “gender eligibility” rules, per ESPN and BBC Sport. As a result, Zambia is carrying 22 players into this year’s tournament rather than the permitted 26.