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SANTHI SOUNDARAJAN (also spelled Shanthi Soundararajan,Tamil : சாந்தி சௌந்திரராஜன், born April 1981) is an Indian track and field athlete. She is the winner of 12 international medals for India
India
and around 50 medals for her home state of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
. Shanthi Soundarajan is the first Tamil woman to win a medal at the Asian Games . She competes in middle distance track events . She was stripped of a silver medal won at the 2006 Asian Games after failing a sex verification test which disputed her eligibility to participate in the women's competition.

CONTENTS

* 1 Early life and career * 2 Asian Games controversy * 3 Later life * 4 Achievements and honours * 5 IAAF policy and support for other athletes * 6 In popular culture * 7 See also * 8 References

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

Soundarajan was born in 1981 in the village of Kathakkurichi in the Pudukkottai District
Pudukkottai District
of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
, India. Soundarajan grew up in a 20-by-5 foot hut across the road from the new home she lives in now. There was no bathroom or outhouse, nor was there running water or electricity. She is one of five children of brick-kiln labourers in a rural village in southern Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
state; she overcame malnutrition as a child to become a middle-distance runner. Her family could not even afford a television and watched Soundarajan's Doha
Doha
race at a neighbour's house. Her mother and father had to go to another town to work in a brickyard, where they earned the American equivalent of $4 a week. While they were gone, Soundarajan, the oldest, was in charge of taking care of her four siblings. Sometimes, Soundarajan's grandfather, an accomplished runner, helped while her parents were away. When she was 13, he taught her to run on an open stretch of dirt outside the hut and bought her a pair of shoes.

At her first competition, in eighth grade, Soundarajan won a tin cup trophy; she collected 13 more in interschool competitions. The sports coach at a nearby high school took note of her performances and recruited her. The school paid her tuition and provided her with a uniform and hot lunches. It was the first time Soundarajan had ever eaten three meals a day.

After high school, Soundarajan got a scholarship from an Arts college in Pudukkottai, the nearest town. and the following year, Soundarajan transferred to a college in Chennai, the state's capital, which was seven hours away. In 2005, she attended the Asian Athletics Championships in South Korea, where she won a silver medal. In 2006, she was chosen to represent India
India
at the Asian Games (run by the Olympic Council of Asia). In the 800 meters, Soundarajan took the silver in 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds, beating Viktoriya Yalovtseva of Kazakhstan by 0.03 seconds. This win lead to Soundarajan becoming embroiled in an ongoing, unresolved debate over what makes an athlete female enough to compete as a woman.

On 2004 Soundarajan was awarded 1 lakh cash from then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa
Jayalalithaa

Soundarajan holds the national record for the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase clocking 10:44.65 seconds. At a national meet in Bangalore
Bangalore
in July 2005, she won the 800m , 1,500m and 3000m . She won the silver medal in 800 m at the 2005 Asian Championships in Incheon
Incheon
, South Korea.

ASIAN GAMES CONTROVERSY

Soundarajan won a silver medal in the women's 800m race at the 2006 Asian Games held in Doha
Doha
, Qatar clocking 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds. However, she underwent a sex test shortly afterwards, and the results indicated that she "does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman". While such sex tests are not compulsory for competitors, the International Association of Athletics Federations can request that contenders take such tests at any time, and include intensive evaluation by a gynecologist, a geneticist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist, and an internal medicine specialist. Reports initially suggested that her upbringing in impoverished rural India, where she reportedly only started eating proper meals in 2004, could be a factor behind the test result. In a 2016 video petition, Santhi Soundarajan disclosed that she has been told she has androgen insensitivity syndrome .

Five days after the news report, Soundarajan says, she received a call from Lalit Bhanot, a former joint secretary of the Indian Olympic Association. Bhanot spoke to Soundarajan in English. "He told Santhi she can't do sports anymore,'. When she asked why, she was told: It's been confirmed, Santhi cannot compete in sports." Soon after the results of the sex test came out, she was stripped of her silver medal.

Soundarajan returned to her village in humiliation and promptly fell into serious depression. Months later, she tried to kill herself by ingesting a type of poison used by veterinarians. A friend found her vomiting uncontrollably and brought her to a hospital.

LATER LIFE

In January 2007, the Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Chief Minister Karunanidhi
Karunanidhi
awarded Soundarajan a television set and a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 million for her Doha
Doha
Games effort, despite the fallout of Soundarajan failing a gender test. Soundarajan spent her reward money on her students; there are an average of 68 (trainees) and none of them is charged any fee.

Soundarajan's application to the state-run railways for a job before the games was turned down because the athlete failed a medical test.

In September 2007, Soundarajan was reported to have attempted suicide, reportedly by consuming a veterinary drug at her residence. The attempt was blamed on gender, economic, and sports pressure in India.

Two months later, Soundarajan took up coaching, starting a training academy at her home district of Pudukkottai, and became a temporary athletics coach with the regional government. By 2009, her academy had 68 students and her students had won the first and third positions in the Chennai
Chennai
marathon.

Soundarajan was admitted to the NIS athletic coach diploma course in Bangalore
Bangalore
in 2013. Soundarajan was one of the 24 coaches in athletics, out of the 108 students who attended the course in eight disciplines. on 30 April 2014 she became a qualified athletics coach, being awarded the NIS diploma certificate at the Sports Authority of India
India
graduation ceremony in Bangalore. Soundarajan doesn't have a permanent job at that time. Commenting on Soundarajan's situation, Olympic shooter Anjali Bhagwat
Anjali Bhagwat
, who termed the incident as "shameful," said “The athlete should be given at least a central or state government job for her financial stability, in lieu of what Santhi has done for the country”.

On December 2014,with the help of gender activist Gopi Shankar Madurai , Soundarajan met Pon. Radhakrishnan , Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Olympic silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore , Minister of State for Information Technology and Broadcasting, and Union Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in New Delhi to present a request for assistance securing a permanent job as an athletics coach, and in restoring her 800m silver medal from the 2006 Doha
Doha
Asian Games.

Radhakrishnan, a political heavyweight from Tamil Nadu, in turn, wrote to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal
Sarbananda Sonowal
to release a cash award to Soundarajan, but the Ministry’s response was unfavorable: she was informed through a letter that since the medal has not been restored to her, the Ministry cannot give a Rs 10 lakh cash award for the medal. Also, the Ministry does not provide or recommend jobs in central/state government offices. "My legacy will remain not with my medals but with the determination and hope to overcome my past torment and my present struggles, I want to live my dream through my students." — Santhi Soundarajan

Soundarajan told the BBC
BBC
Tamil Service that the Indian authorities had not fought her case after she was stripped off her silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

On 29 July 2015, the Madras High Court directed the State government to consider Soundarajan’s plea for relaxation in educational qualifications and help her become a coach at the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
(SDATN). As per the notification issued by the Youth Welfare and Sports Development in April 2015, an applicant contesting for the post of the coach should have an education qualification of a bachelor's degree and Soundarajan did not have one. Justice D. Hariparanthaman directed the Secretary of the Youth Welfare and Sports Development to “consider her claim for the post of coach by granting requisite relaxation as a special case”, in the light of the documents produced by her in the sports area and pass appropriate orders within six weeks.

On 27 September 2016 the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) served a notice on the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in response to a petition filed by Soundarajan. The NCSC investigated allegations of injustice and sought a response in the matter from the secretary of the Department of Sports within 30 days.

On 16 October 2016 Soundarajan was informed that the State government decided to appoint her as a permanent athletic coach under Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Sports Minister K. Pandiarajan said the State will plead her case with the International Court of Arbitration for Sport. he also stated that the Tamil Nadu Government will write to SAI, Indian Olympic Association and Athletics Federation of India
India
to take up Soundarajan’s case in that forum.

Soundarajan received her appointment order for a permanent athletic coach under SDAT on 20 December 2016 from Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Sports Minister K. Pandiarajan at the Fort St. George, India
India

On January 3, 2017 Gopi Shankar Madurai
Gopi Shankar Madurai
who is closely working with Santhi said she will file a human rights violation case against Athletic Federation of India
India
and Indian Olympic Association at Madras High Court or the Apex of India.

On February 16, 2017 The National Human Rights Commission of India rejected Santhi's complaint claims it's too late to accept it.

ACHIEVEMENTS AND HONOURS

Soundarajan has won 12 international medals and 50 national medals, including:

* Gold Medal – 2005 Asian Indoor Games – 4x400 relay * Gold Medal – 2005 Asian Indoor Games – 800 meters * Silver Medal – 2006 Asian Games - 800 meters * Gold Medal – 2006 South Asian Games – 1500 meters * Gold Medal – 2006 South Asian Games – 4x400 relay * Gold Medal – 2003 International Peace Sports Festival – 5000 meters * Silver Medal – 2006 South Asian Games – 800 meters * Silver Medal – 2005 Asian Athletics Championships – 800 meters * Silver Medal – 2004 Asian Grand Prix, Bangalore
Bangalore
– 800 meters * Silver Medal – 2004 Asian Grand Prix, Pune – 800 meters * Silver Medal – 2003 International Peace Sports Festival – 800 meters * Bronze Medal – 2003 International Peace Sports Festival – 400 meters

YEAR AWARD HONOURING BODY NOTES

2016 Young Inspirational Women Leader Award World Women Leadership Congress (WWLC) Awarded for her contributions towards increasing the participation of young Tamil girls in Athletics.

YEAR TITLE HONOURING BODY NOTES

2017 Living Phoenix Kurukshetra (college festival)
Kurukshetra (college festival)
by College of Engineering, Guindy
College of Engineering, Guindy
, Anna University
Anna University
. Conferred on her for Santhi's remarkable contributions in the field of Athletics.

IAAF POLICY AND SUPPORT FOR OTHER ATHLETES

Soundarajan's case has been contrasted with that of Caster Semenya of South Africa, also a middle-distance runner, who nearly lost the gold she won at the 2009 Berlin World Championship after she failed a similar gender test. Semenya's nation rallied around her to safeguard her dignity, her rights and position in world sports. She was also her country’s flag-bearer at the London Olympics 2012 . Soundarajan supported Semenya, fearing that Semenya would face the same humiliation that she did.

Soundarajan also extended her support to Dutee Chand and said the youngster should not be victimized. She also expressed her dismay at the lack of sensitivity in the handling of the Dutee Chand issue, fearing that the young athlete’s future may have now been jeopardized. Soundarajan demanded that all steps be taken to ensure the 18-year-old’s return to the track.

Welcoming the Court of Arbitration for Sport 's ruling in favour of Chand on 27 July 2015 for suspending gender test, the landmark ruling has also fuelled Soundarajan's hopes of regaining the silver medal and the Rs 10-lakh prize money from the central government which was withheld after the gender test row.

In this regard, it is notable that the IAAF policy, suspended as a result of Chand's case, did not prevent Soundarajan from competing. Kalra, Kulshreshtha and Unnikrishnan, writing in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2012, stated that "Chromosomal sex, used to disqualify Santhi in 2010, is not mentioned at all in the current guidelines." Immediately prior to the 2016 Olympic Games and in response to sex verification controversies, Genel, Simpson and de la Chapelle in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated "One of the fundamental recommendations published almost 25 years ago ... that athletes born with a disorder of sex development and raised as females be allowed to compete as women remains appropriate".

After Rio Olympics Caster Semenya surprised Santhi by sending a message of love, gratitude and support on twitter.

IN POPULAR CULTURE

In 2006, Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan
raised a question on Soundarajan in the show Kaun Banega Crorepati
Kaun Banega Crorepati
2 he hosted.

The character of Valli in the Tamil film Ethir Neechal is a tribute to Soundarajan

On August 2016 Thappad an online platform and mobile application made a video as part of an online campaign that is asking for Soundarajan's name to be included in the official records again and that the government should give her a permanent job to rebuild her life.

Put Chutney online comedy group under Culture Machine Media Pvt Ltd made a video in Tamil, to explain the significance of her struggle to residents of Tamil Nadu.

SEE ALSO

* Sex verification in sports * Androgen insensitivity syndrome
Androgen insensitivity syndrome
* Ethir Neechal (2013 film)
Ethir Neechal (2013 film)

REFERENCES

* ^ "Soundarajan Shanti Profile". Iaaf.org. Retrieved 2016-08-02.

* ^ A B "Poll ticket, crowd-funded academy on Santhi\'s agenda – The Times of India". The Times Of India. * ^ A B "Santhi \'medal should be returned\'". BBC
BBC
News. 14 September 2009. * ^ A B "Santhi scandal an insult to all Tamils Zee News". Zeenews.india.com. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "Failed gender test forces Olympian to redefine athletic career – ESPN The Magazine". Espn.go.com. 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2016-08-02.

* ^ 5 Dec 2016 (2016-12-05). " Gopi Shankar Madurai
Gopi Shankar Madurai
on Twitter: "Cannot believe she is no more #RipAmma #Jayalalitha is a legacy "". Twitter . Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ India
India
strike it rich in track and field events, The Hindu , 9 December 2006 * ^ "Indian athlete fails gender test". BBC
BBC
News. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2009. * ^ S. Sen (20 December 2006) "AFI to investigate Santhi case, uneven diet cited as possible reason" The Raw Story
The Raw Story
* ^ A B "#FairTreatment for Shanthi Soundarajan". Thappad. 2016. * ^ Saner, Emine (30 July 2008). "The gender trap". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2009. * ^ "The sad story of Santhi Soundarajan". The Times of India
India
. 9 January 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009. * ^ A B "Sex-test failure attempts suicide". Fox Sports. 6 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2009. * ^ "Indian silver medalist female runner at Asian Games fails gender test". International Herald Tribune. 18 December 2006. * ^ "Indian runner fails gender test, loses medal". Sports.espn.go.com. 2006-12-18. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "Shanti fails Doha
Doha
gender test". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. 18 December 2006. * ^ " India
India
athlete makes plea for Semenya". CNN. 14 September 2009.

* ^ "Santhi turns to coaching after suicide attempt". Taipei Times. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009. * ^ "Financial aid for Santhi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 July 2013. * ^ "Graduation day at SAI South Centre". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 1 May 2014. * ^ "Santhi leaves tainted past, is all set to coach athletes – The Times of India". The Times Of India. * ^ "Santhi incident shameful: Anjali Bhagwat
Anjali Bhagwat
– Sports". Post.jagran.com. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ " Santhi Soundarajan incident shameful: Anjali Bhagwat". Times of India. July 25, 2012. * ^ Kappur, Shilpa. "One Who Fights For an Other". The New Indian Express . Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "Santhi\'s plea". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 21 December 2014. * ^ "Santhi finds herself at crossroads again". Tribuneindia.com. 2015-05-15. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "AFI to monitor Semenya’s test to make Santhi’s case". The Hindu . 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ Jesudasan, Dennis S. (1 August 2015). "HC comes to the aid of Santhi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. * ^ "Ministry of sports served notice on Santhi Soundarajan\'s complaint". ESPN. October 11, 2016. * ^ "SC panel intervenes in Santhi case". The Hindu. December 1, 2016. * ^ "Santhi set to rebuild life as official athletic coach". The Hindu. December 1, 2016. * ^ "Santhi gets a state job, to fight for return of medal". Times of India. December 21, 2016. * ^ "Athlete Santhi Soundarajan may file human rights case, as AFI, IOA wash hands of medal issue". The News Minute. 2017-01-02. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ " Santhi Soundarajan to file human rights violation case against AFI, IOA ten years after being stripped off medal". Firstpost.com. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ "Santhi Set To Fight For Justice Jan 03, 2017, 19:43 IST, Times Now". Timesnow.tv. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ "Human rights body rejects Santhi Soundarajan’s complaint, claims it’s too late to accept it". The News Minute. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-18. * ^ "Dental health awareness camp held – Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2016-03-16. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ A B * ^ A B "The Living Phoenix Speaks! – An Exclusive Interview With Santhi Soundararajan". The Guindy Times. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ A B Kalra, Sanjay; Kulshreshtha, Bindu; Unnikrishnan, AmbikaGopalakrishnan (2012). "We care for intersex: For Pinky, for Santhi, and for Anamika". Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. 16 (6): 873. ISSN 2230-8210 . doi :10.4103/2230-8210.102980 . * ^ " India
India
athlete makes plea for Semenya". CNN. 14 September 2009.

* ^ "Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.com". Time. 1 September 2009. * ^ "al jazeera". Aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ Gopalkrishnan, Krithika (2014-07-19). "Santhi Urges Establishment to Help
Help
Sidelined Dutee". The New Indian Express . Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "Santhi keen on getting her Asiad medal back – The Times of India". The Times Of India. * ^ "Ruling on Dutee gives Santhi a Ray of hope". The New Indian Express. 10 August 2015. * ^ Genel M; Simpson J; de la Chapelle A (August 4, 2016). "The olympic games and athletic sex assignment". JAMA. 316: 1359. ISSN 0098-7484 . doi :10.1001/jama.2016.11850 . * ^ Gopi Shankar Madurai
Gopi Shankar Madurai
(2016-12-29). "Why India
India
Must Not Fail Santhi Soundarajan". Swarajya . ,India. * ^ "Top Latest News, Breaking News Headlines India, Live World News, Indian News Stories". In.com. Retrieved 2016-08-02. * ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-29. * ^ Sonam Joshi Lifestyle Editor. "Why We Should Join The Campaign Seeking Justice For Runner Shanthi Soundarajan". Huffingtonpost.in. Retrieved 2017-03-02. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * ^ "Justice for Shanthi: Petition supporting TN athlete who failed the gender test". The News Minute. 2016-08-10. Retrieved 2017-03-02. * ^ Sonam Joshi. "A Decade After Being Banned For Failing A Controversial Gender Test, Athlete Shanthi Soundarajan Gets A Government Job". Huffingtonpost.in. Retrieved 2017-03-02.

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