Indian female athlete accused of rape and being a man

Jun 15, 2012

Sprinter Pinki Pramanik arrested; medical tests sought by police to establish gender

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AN INDIAN athlete who competes as a woman is at the centre of a gender row after she was accused of being a man and was charged with raping her live-in partner.

Pinki Pramanik, who won a 4x400m relay gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games, was arrested late on Thursday and taken to Baguiati police station in the northwest of Kolkata, reported the Telegraph of India. The paper reported that she denied the allegations.

"Pramanik has been detained after we received a complaint by a woman, who has said that the athlete is a man and accused him of torturing, raping and trying to kill her," police spokesman Subrata Bandyopadhyay said.

"We approached the court Thursday seeking permission for a medical test to determine the gender of the athlete and [that] has been granted. The test will be conducted shortly," he added.

"I have been framed," Pramanik said. "The [complainant] had asked for [money] but I refused to give her the money. I underwent medical tests several times during my career as an athlete and I don't think further tests are necessary."

Kamal Maitra, the secretary of the West Bengal Athletics Association, stood by the sprinter. "Had she been a male, she would have been found out in various international meets," he said.

A recent gender controversy in world athletics involved South African runner Caster Semenya, who won the 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships. It was not until a year later that the International Amateur Athletics Federation confirmed that Semenya had been cleared to continue competing as a woman.

The earliest known instance of a champion athlete lying about gender is of Stanislawa Walasiewicz - known as Stella Walsh - a Polish athlete who won gold in the women's 100 metres at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. After her death in 1980, she was discovered to have had partially developed male genitalia.

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