Doha Asian Games 800m silver medallist,
Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan could be stripped of her medal after failing a gender
test as she reportedly did not have the 'sexual characteristics of a woman'.
There are also three reasons why she could have the benefit of doubt - genetic abnormality, chromosomal variation and differences in genetic makeup.
It is not clearly known on what criteria she has failed the test.
Her parents, Manimekalai (48) and Soundararajan (61), labourers in a brick kiln, barely had enough to feed their five children. Santhi survived on rice gruel or cooked rice soaked in buttermilk as staple food during her school days.
They are living in a small village near Pudukkottai in Tamilnadu
"It was sheer grit and zeal, rather than physical fitness that saw her win the silver," close friend and classmate R Kalavathi says.
She was born on April 17, 1981. She weighs 54 kg and her height is 161 cm.
Santhi trained under Dr Nikolai, the foreign coach for athletics, in
Santhi had cleared gender tests during the Asian Athletics Championships in Inch eon, South Korea, where she won the 800m silver and the senior nationals in 2005.
Her coach P. Nagarajan, a member of the Prime Sports Akademy of the St Joseph's College of Engineering, said: 'The gender issue is such a sensitive one that it is to be dealt with delicately.'
'I am not a medical professional, I am a coach and it was not possible for me to make such a judgement,' he added.
Lack of proper nutrition, according to gynecologists, can retard the growth of female hormones and affect menstruation cycles. Santhi belonged to a very poor household, which was always short of adequate meals, he added.
'I have known her for two years. As she went to a girls school and a girls college, there was no reason to suspect her sex,' said Nagarajan.
In 2005, Santhi had won the 800m in the Asian championship in Incheon, Korea. In August she won the 1,500m gold and 800m silver in the South Asian games in Colombo.
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"It is very, very unfair that you victimise a girl who has failed a gender test, unlike doping. Doping is a deliberate attempt to do some mischief. Being born with some physical, anatomical abnormality is not a sin," said Dr P S M Chandran, Director of Medicine, Sports Authority of India.
"And if this girl has ever been examined by a doctor in the past, a Gynecologist. The doctor would certainly have told her, you know that you undergo a certain other test also and safeguarded her. But poor families, not just poor families, how many people do a medical check-up, you know?" he added.
- Read more at NDTV.COM
The headline has jaws dropping around the world, but was the decision fair? Indian runner Santhi Soundarajan was born a woman, lived as a woman and according to reports, made no effort to change her gender.
- Read more at washingtonpost.com
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