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Gender bender: TN honours Santhi
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, December 18
Despite failing the gender test at the Asian Games in Doha and the Olympic Association of Asia (OCA) deciding to withdraw the silver medal won by Santhi Soundarajan, the Tamil Nadu Government today felicitated her with a prize money of Rs 15 lakh.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, at a function here today, awarded a television set and the prize money to Santhi.

Mr. Karunanidhi awarded the TV set since Santhi’s parents had said that they could not witness the victory of their daughter as they did not possess a television set.

Since the OCA was in the process of informing the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) of its decision to strip the woman athlete from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, Santhi, after receiving the award, today said that she still considered herself the silver medal-winner in the 800 metres event.

“I have received no official communication so far from authorities of the Asian Games,” she said.

Santhi won the silver in the women’s 800m event after clocking 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds behind Mariam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain.

Indian officials who went to Doha came to know that she had failed the gender test immediately after the 800m race but remained tightlipped.

After she failed the gender test Santhi was withdrawn from the final day of the athletics programme and was replaced by O. P. Jaisha. Unfortunately Jaisha tripped and fell around the 200m mark and withdrew from the race.

The IOA officials in Doha asked Santhi to leave while the entire country rejoiced the victory of the “local girl” from a small town in Tamil Nadu.

Though Santhi failed the gender test in Doha, last year she had completed and won a silver medal at the Asian Championship in Korea.

The Tamil Nadu Sports Department officials said they were not aware of the latest developments regarding Santhi since neither the Union Sports Ministry or the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) had contacted the state government.

According to experts, other than dope tests, which were conducted by testing the urine of athletes immediately after an event, gender tests were more complicated.

Gender tests are usually carried out by a panel including a gynaecologist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist and a genetic expert. All these examinations are done along with other tests if necessary before the final decision was placed before the proper authorities.

After receiving the report from the panel the OCA authorities concluded that Santhi had failed the gender test and informed the Coordination Committee of the OCA which usually looks after such matters. The committee then decided to withdraw the silver medal which had been awarded to Santhi.

Santhi’s coach, P. Nagarajan, said, “If the reports are true, it is indeed very sad and disappointing.” After Seema Anthil tested positive in a doping test and Santhi failing the gender test Indian athletes in Doha were faced with embarrassment.

What is mysterious is that how the IOA decided to send Santhi to the Asian Games when in India itself she had reportedly failed a gender test while seeking employment with the Southern Railways.

Others medal winners at the Asian Games who received the cash award here were Indian chess team captain K Sasikiran (Rs 20 lakh), Anju Bobby George (Rs 15 lakh) and Sourav Ghosal (Rs 10 lakh).

Santhi failed gender test: IOA

NEW DELHI (OSR): The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) today confirmed that Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan had failed a gender test and it has asked the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) to “return her medal as desired by the OCA”.

IOA director ASV Prasad said “the IOA has received a communication from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) vide its letter dated 17th December, 2006 informing that Ms. Shanti Soundarajan, an Indian athlete winner of the silver medal in women’s 800m at recently concluded 15th Asian Games in Doha has been disqualified as per the recommendations of the OCA Medical Committee on the Games Rule Violation.”

Mr Prasad said the IOA has asked chairman of its Medical Commission to “enquire into the matter and submit a report to IOA within 10 days”.

Years ago, another Indian athlete, Anasuya Bhai, had failed the gender test, leading to her banishment from the athletics scene, though she has been active as a coach and manager of athletic teams in later years.



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