Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Bangalore July 16:
It was a double blow for Dutee Chand (18), the star sprinter from Odisha, on Tuesday. First, she had to leave Bangalore, where she was undergoing a national level coaching camp, in a huff after serious doubts over her gender.
Next, she found her name struck off the list of athletes bound for the Common Wealth Games (CWG) in Glasgow at the very last minute.
Dutee had to undergo the ignominy of a gender test – the only athlete at the camp to be subjected to one – at the Bangalore camp. Though the result of the test is yet to be released, sports authorities have clearly decided to play it safe and not risk possible embarrassment at the marquee sporting event in Glasgow.
In New Delhi, Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General (DG) Jiji Thomson confirmed that a ‘woman athlete’ underwent a gender test in Bangalore without naming Dutee.
“A gender test was conducted on a woman athlete in Bangalore. If she is there in the list of CWG participants, her name will have to be deleted from the list,” Thomson said.
Within hours of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) secretary CK Valson confirming that Dutee’s name was in the list of 33 athletes selected for the Glasgow Games, the AFI released a revised list of 32 with her name missing.
It is surprising that sports authorities in the country decided to subject Dutee to a gender test only now despite the fact that doubts over her gender have persisted for quite some time.
Born in a poor weaver’s family in Jajpur, Dutee was a rare bright spot in the otherwise bleak athletics scene in Odisha, winning several national and international competitions.
Only last month, Dutee had won two gold medals, in the 200 metres and 4x400M relay, within a space of just one and a half hours at the 16th Asian Junior Championships in Taipei.
She was also a finalist in the 100M at the World Junior Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, last year and was widely tipped to participate in the World Junior Championships next week in Eugene, Oregon, from July 22 to 27.
The authorities’ reluctance to conduct a sex determination test on Dutee appears even more surprising when posited against l’ affaire Pinki Parmanik.
Pinki, an Asian Games gold medal winner, was arrested on June 14, 2012 on charges of raping a woman.
Before Paramanik, India had faced another embarrassment on a gender issue when Santhi Sounderrajan, a silver winner in the 800 metres at the 2006 Asian Games, had her medal taken away after failing a gender test.