The Athletic Federation of India (AFI) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) will not confirm it. But sources in the IOA say Soundarajan Santhi, who won silver in the women’s 800 metres at the Asian Games, has failed a gender test at Doha. She is set to be stripped of her medal.
The AFI remains in denial mode. “We have not received any official intimation from either the IOA or the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee, so we will not be able to say anything right now,” said AFI secretary Lalit Bhanot.
It is learnt Santhi could not make it to the Southern Railway team last year following doubts over her gender. Santhi trained under Dr Nikolai, the foreign coach for athletics, in Bangalore.
According to International Olympic Committee rules, an athlete undergoes a gender test only when doubts arise, or someone complains.
NEW DELHI: Santhi Soundarajan, an Indian woman athlete who was found lacking the ‘sexual characteristics of a woman’ during a medical test at the Doha Asian Games, had apparently failed a similar test in India.
DNA learnt on Sunday that the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) had cleared Santhi, despite the findings, to represent the country in the 800m race. She may be stripped of her silver medal.
The sex test Santhi underwent was banned some eight years ago by the International Olympic Committee. But there is a provision to carry out the test in special circumstances — if there are strong grounds for suspecting an athlete, or if a participant country lodges a protest. “Santhi was asked to take the test,” an AFI official said.
An athletics selector said officials knew before the competition that Santhi had been denied a job in the Railways on similar grounds. “But a powerful vice-president of the AFI, who was also on a doping investigation panel in 2005, was trying to help her,” the selector said.
The selector said some officials suspected another woman athlete on the Games squad to have dodgy gender credentials — but she wasn’t caught. This athlete too went on to win a medal.
AFI secretary-general Lalit Bhanot said, “It is a sensitive issue and I can’t react before I receive official intimation.”