Indian athlete under pressure to prove her gender after accusations

Indian athlete Pinki Pramanik celebrates after winning the women's 400m final at the 10th South Asian Games in Colombo, 25 August 2006.

Story highlights

  • Police want runner Pinki Pramanik to take a gender test
  • She faces several accusations from a woman who says she was her live-in partner
  • Police say that if the test concludes she is male, she could face rape charges
  • Pramanik denies the accusations and refuses to take the gender test

A retired gold medal-winning athlete in India is under pressure to prove she is female after her partner accused of deception and sexual assault, police said Friday.

Runner Pinki Pramanik has been detained on charges of fraud and cheating after allegations by Anamika Acharya, a woman claiming to be her live-in partner, said Rajeev Kumar, the police commissioner of Bidhannagar in West Bengal State.

Acharya has also accused Pramanik of being a man. If a medical examination establishes she is male, police could charge her with rape, Kumar said.

Pramanik, who won gold at the 2006 Asian Games and a silver medal the same year at the Commonwealth Games, has denied the accusations and refused to undergo a gender test, Kumar said.

Police have requested a court order to compel her to take the test.

The maximum sentence in India for cheating and fraud is three years in prison; for rape, it is seven years in prison.

CNN was unable to contact Pramanik or her representatives directly Friday.

A senior official at the Athletics Federation of India said the sports organization had not received any complaint against Pramanik challenging her sexual identity.

C.K. Valson, the secretary of the federation, said athletes are subject to gender verification tests only on the basis of formal complaints.

During her career, Pramanik underwent drug tests that involved the submission of urine samples to female officials, Valson said.

"She participated in the Asian Games and other events as a woman," he said, noting that she is now retired.

Pramanik's case has revived memories in India of another female runner, Santhi Soundarajan, who was stripped of her 2006 Asian Games silver medal after the results of a gender test.

Soundarajan attempted suicide in 2007, survived and became a coach.

In 2009, the gender of South African athlete Caster Semenya, then 18, became the focus of international news media attention after sporting officials said they would carry out tests.

Semenya was given the all-clear to compete as a woman in 2010.

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