Former athlete Santhi Soundarajan to register human rights violation case against IOA, AFI
What’s the story?
Former Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan is set to file a human rights violation case against the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and Indian Olympic Association(IOA). Soundarajan was stripped of the silver medal she won in the 800m at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, for failing a 'gender test' by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The 35-year old has filed complaints with the National Commission for Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, National Commission for Human Rights and National Commission for Women.
IFA President Adille Sumariwalla, however, said that nothing much can be done by the federation because Soundarajan was banned and stripped off the medal by the OCA.
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Due to the lack of documents, including the report of the test conducted in Doha in 2006, Soundarajan’s medal was taken back and she was not able to file human rights violation complaints.
She filed an RTI for the reports of the test done in 2006 and an NGO in Madurai, Tamil Nadu also provided her assistance and filed an RTI for the same.
The heart of the matter
Soundarajan was forced to stand half naked for almost a day in Doha for the tests to be conducted. The athlete was not informed of such norms beforehand and also did not speak the language of the doctors conducting the test.
This was gross violation of human rights of a poor and helpless woman who had to defend herself while nobody from the Indian authorities came to her aid.
President Sumariwalla, however, has said that a report of the test was given to her in 2011 when she filed an RTI application.
According to Firstpost, Sumariwalla claimed, "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."
Soundarajan will fight her battle in court, if she proceeds further and files a case against the IOA and AFI. Currently, she has a government job as an athletics coach in Tamil Nadu.
It wasn't until September when the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) served a notice to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in response to Santhi's petition. Soundarajan finally received her appointment order for the post of athletics coach under Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu in December.
Despite getting a government job after three years of hardship, Santhi's biggest honour is yet to be restored. The medals are a symbol of an athlete's hard work and dedication. So, rather than providing Santhi with the sympathy, let's hope that the Indian authorities rally behind their athletes to ensure that no other sportsperson undergoes a similar fate.