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Pinki gets AFI’s support

New Delhi: Pinki Pramanik’s status as an international medal winner will not be clouded by the medical report submitted by the police in Barasat court, on Monday.

Asked whether the report might force the authorities to strip the Bengal girl of the five medals she won in Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and SAF Games, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) president Anil Sumariwala said the two things should not be mixed.

“The matter is sub judice, so I should not comment,” the former national champion told The Telegraph. “But I don’t think this report will have any bearing on Pinki’s status as an athlete.”

According to Sumariwala, the Bengal sprinter could have been stripped of her medals if the gender verification was done by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). “It is an extremely sensitive issue,” he said.

“The IAAF and Asian Athletics Association (AAI) will only take note of the present development if they receive a specific complaint or protest from any country, whose athletes’ results were affected by Pinki’s medal-winning performances. Even in that case, the international bodies would get the required tests done by their own medal boards before reaching a decision,” Sumariwala said.

Senior sports medicine expert Dr Manabendra Bhattacharya, who was a part of the Indian contingent in 2006 Asian Games, said Pinki’s victory in Doha was perfectly legitimate.

“Like all medal winners, Pinki, too, was tested in Doha. Nothing was found then,” said Bhattacharya, who had seen the athlete grow in her early days, at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Salt Lake.

Interestingly, in the 2006 Asian Games, Shanti Soundarajan won a silver medal in the 800 metres. However, she underwent a gender determination test shortly afterwards and was stripped of the medal.

The first mandatory gender determination test was in July 1950 before the European Championships in Belgium. Gender determination testing began at the 1966 European Athletics championships in response to suspicion that several of the best women athletes from Eastern Europe were actually men. At the Olympics, testing was introduced at the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble.

The practice was discontinued in 1999, but IOC still holds on to the right to this test in individual cases.

In one of the recent cases, South African runner Caster Semenya, who won the 800 metres in 2009 World Championship, was made to go through a similar test after IAAF became suspicious of her dramatic improvement in timings. The test, however, proved that she is a woman.