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Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 13:07 UK

Semenya 'must not be humiliated'

Santhi Soundarajan
Soundarajan was banned after failing a gender test in 2006

Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan fears Caster Semenya will face the same "humiliation" that she did if the South African fails a gender test.

Soundarajan was stripped of 800m silver at the 2006 Asian Games after failing a test and later attempted suicide.

She told BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire show: "It was a very bitter and humiliating experience for me.

"Sports federations should come up with a solution to this, rather than ostracising somebody."

Tests on Semenya, who won 800m gold at the world championships in Berlin last month, are likely to show that she has an "inter-gender condition", which would mean she has both male and female sex characteristics.

No matter what the result of the tests, Soundarajan believes the 18-year-old should be allowed to both keep her gold medal - which the IAAF have said she will be able to - and to continue to compete as a female.

I am treated as an outcast and am unable to even go out of my house

Santhi Soundarajan

"I would like to appeal that there should be a serious reconsideration about the way these issues are addressed," said the Indian runner, who was found to have female sex organs but also internal testes and the male XY chromosome.

"I feel the medal should be with her, not withdrawn, and I strongly feel and suggest that she should be able to continue to run. The sporting bodies should treat her with honour.

"She should not undergo the same sort of humiliation and insults I have faced. This would affect her mentally and physically and she would not be in a position to hold her head high."

Soundarajan, 28, said she was shunned by her local community after being stripped of her silver medal and banned from competing by the Indian Olympic Association.


"I am treated as a social outcast, even in my own local place," she said.

"Even this morning there was a local cycle race and I was an official. I overheard a police official who was in charge of the security talking about my gender and pointing at me saying 'this was the girl who failed the gender test'.

"It is really, really humiliating. I am unable to move in the society, to go out anywhere. People don't look upon me as an Asian Games medallist, but only speak about when I failed a gender test.

Soundarajan has been banned from competing in domestic or international races, which she says is unfair.

"To be very frank, the process of puberty has never happened to me and I have never been through the menstrual cycle," she said.

"Attaining puberty or going through the menstrual cycle alone does not categorise somebody as a female though.

"So I feel it is unfair to detriment the quality of people based on chromosomes. I feel it is unethical and biased."

see also
SA threatens 'war' over Semenya
11 Sep 09 |  Athletics
Semenya to keep World gold medal
10 Sep 09 |  Athletics
Makeover for SA gender-row runner
08 Sep 09 |  Africa
Meadows surges to bronze in 800m
20 Aug 09 |  Athletics

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