AFI: Too premature to say anything about Pinki now

Published: 13 November, 2012 06:06 IST | Hemal Ashar |

There is yet another twist in athlete Pinki Pramanik's case with a medical report being submitted by the police in a court in Barasat (West Bengal) after investigations stated Asian Games gold medallist Pinki Pramanik is male.

The report is based on a medical test done by a board of doctors. While the matter is in court, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), Indian athletics apex body, is watching the case embroiling Pinki, the former middle-distance runner, who won the gold in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, closely.

Adille Sumariwalla
Adille Sumariwalla

Says C K Walson, secretary general of the AFI, “It is too premature to say anything now. This is a report done by a panel of doctors and it would be unwise to jump the gun. Only later, if this report is found to be true and everything is finalised, would we write to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to see what we have to do.”

Walson adds, “for seven years there was no suspicion. Even in Doha, there was no issue. Now, after all these years, this has cropped up. People are simply talking, but let me make it clear that we cannot do gender tests – they are only allowed in case of a protest or suspicion. Pinki has been dope-tested all these years when she was competing. Dope tests are usually done with the athletes stripped from the waist downwards and with the same sex officials in the room. There was no suspicion. Now, suddenly this controversy has arisen. As of now, Pinki’s medals are with her.”

Adille Sumariwalla, president, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is furious and forthright. When asked about what the AFI would do now, Sumariwalla said, “What are we supposed to do? This is a case between two partners or lovers or whatever. First of all, people have to understand that being proved a man or a woman is very complex.

You might be a woman with the XX chromosomes and the physical attributes of a woman. On the other hand, you might have XXY chromosome, with the physical attributes of a woman. Then, in that case, the Y can be treated. This is a very complicated matter and not about dimwits shouting about whether one is male or female. Athlete Caster Semenya of South Africa had the XXY chromosome and was also embroiled in controversy. So, you see how complicated all this is.”

Sumariwalla also sees red about people pointing fingers at officials and saying they do not stand by athletes. “It is easy to say we have not stood by athletes, but it is people who do not understand. I have explained how complicated this is on television shows too, but unfortunately our side is not aired because it does not make for a sensational report. It is not a case of sections of the press not understanding what is being said. but that they ‘do not WANT to understand’. It is easy to say that the AFI does not conduct gender tests, but how many people know that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not allow for gender testing except in the case of a protest? So, it is easy to shoot one’s mouth off,” Sumariwalla says angrily.

The Pinki Pramanik Controversy
Pinki Pramanik (born April 10, 1986 in Purulia) is an Indian female track athlete who specialised in the 400m and 800m. Pramanik had success with the national 4×400 metres relay team, winning silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, gold at the 2006 Asian Games, and gold at the 2005 Asian Indoor Games. She won three gold medals at the 2006 South Asian Games, winning the 400m and 800m events, as well as the relay.

A series of injuries and a car crash meant that she rarely competed after 2007. In 2012, a rape allegation by Pramanik’s female friend led to medical tests to determine her gender. On June 14, 2012 Pramanik was arrested after accusations by her 32-year old female friend of rape and of being male. On June 15, 2012, she was remanded to 14 days judicial custody. On July 10 2012, Pramanik was released on bail. On July13, Pramanik's former live-in partner said that she had brought rape charges against Pramanik at the behest of Avtar Singh According to her, Pramanik and Singh were locked in a bitter land dispute. Now, a report states that she is male. The case has captivated the nation and continues in court. 

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