Athlete Santhi Soundarajan, who is on a 10-year struggle to reclaim the silver medal she was stripped of at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha for failing a gender test, had alleged that the Athletics Federation of India had not even provided her a copy of the disputed medical report. However, AFI President, Adille Sumariwalla, has accused her of lying about not receiving the report.
Claiming that the medical test report had been handed over to Santhi in 2011 following an RTI application, Sumariwalla told PTI, ““She is lying if she says she has not got the medical report. On February 24, 2011, on a reply to her RTI application, the AFI have given her the photostat copy of the test report given by the OCA. It was signed by all the doctors and the chief of Medical Commission of the Doha Asian Games.”
His statement comes a day after The News Minute reported that Santhi plans to file a case of human rights violation against the AFI and the Indian Olympic Association. The 800-metre runner planned to file the case after the Sports Ministry washed its hand off the issue, expressing helplessness in reclaiming her silver medal.
Speaking to The News Minute, Santhi said she did not want to comment on the AFI President’s accusations but added, “I have been struggling for 10 years. If I get the medical report will I automatically get back the medal? I will directly go to court. My medal is what is important to me.”
As reported earlier, Santhi had filed an RTI application with AFI seeking a copy of her gender test in April 2016 and not in 2011 as claimed by Sumariwalla. In response to her RTI last year, AFI stated, “Since the medical history/records pertaining to a person (athlete) are highly confidential and hence the same cannot be sent through postal authorities due to fear of tampering in transit. The athlete, may, however can see/ receive a copy in person from the office of Athletics Federation of India after establishing her identity.”
A similar RTI was also filed in January 2016 by activist Gopi Shankar, who works closely with Santhi. However, Gopi was denied the test report on the grounds that AFI is “bound by medical confidentiality.”
Responding to Sumariwalla’s comments, Gopi said, “It’s not about whether she saw her gender test or whether they handed it over to her – which isn’t true. Why should she get her test report by filing an RTI? Shouldn’t she have got it in 2006 rather than in 2011 as claimed by Sumariwalla?”
The activist went on to say that Sumariwalla’s comments followed a series of contradictory statements made by AFI on the issue. While Sumariwalla claimed that “action was taken” by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and AFI was only abiding by it, Gopi pointed out that the RTI replies were contradictory to his statement.
AFI’s May 2016 response to Santhi’s RTI query on whether she had been barred from taking part in national sports events and what was the reason for the same, stated, “Since the athlete refused to appear before the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Medical and Anti-doping commission of Inquiry, her case for participation or otherwise in National/ International Athletics Competitions was not processed.”
In complete contrast, AFI’s March 2016 reply to the same query by Gopi Shankar read, “AFI has not barred the athlete”.
While Santhi will take her fight to court, Gopi notes, “We should feel ashamed that our own Olympic association and athletics federation has let down an athlete.”