SINGAPORE – The Philippines demanded SEA Games organizers carry out a gender test on an Indonesian women’s volleyball player on Tuesday, risking a storm of controversy.
Philippines coach Roger Gorayeb singled out Indonesia’s Aprilia Santini Manganang because of her appearance and powerful physique, Inquirer.net says.
The Philippines’ delegation spokeswoman confirmed the request, but said she didn’t expect any test to be carried out before the game in Singapore at 12 pm on Wednesday.
“After we filed it’s going to be the competition manager who will reply directly to the volleyball federation or to volleyball officials here,” she told AFP.
Competition organizers were not immediately available to comment and there was no response from officials from Indonesia to what risks becoming a storm of controversy.
(INFOGRAPHIC: Meet the SEA Games Philippine women’s volleyball team)
The Philippine women’s team, led by UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez, plus standouts Aby Marano, Denden Lazaro and the Santiago sisters Jaja and Dindin, will play Malaysia on Thursday followed by Vietnam on Saturday in their round-round group stage matches.
Gender testing is highly controversial, both because of the psychological effects on the athlete and because the science of the process is murky and complex.
Competition officials and coach Gorayeb were not immediately available for comment. Reports said Manganang, 23, is expected to play Wednesday’s Pool B opener.
“She’s very powerful, it’s like putting a male in the female division,” Gorayeb said, according to Inquirer.net.
“Whether she plays or not, it doesn’t matter because we will be playing our best here,” he added.
While it is unknown whether authorities will grant the Philippines’ request, previous gender cases have dragged on over long periods, to the detriment of the athlete involved.
South African runner Caster Semenya, the former 800m world champion, underwent a series of humiliating tests before finally being cleared to compete.
And Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is currently fighting her ban by Indian authorities after a gender test showed up elevated levels of testosterone.
“It’s so cruel. God has made me the way I am. I don’t want to change anything and I also don’t want to give up sports,” Chand, 19, told AFP last year. – Rappler.com