In a shocking turn of events, Indian heptathlete Swapna Barman has raised serious questions about the eligibility of her fellow competitor, Nandini Agasara, who clinched a heptathlon medal at the Asian Games on Sunday night (1 October), leaving the defending champion Barman slightly behind.
In a Monday morning revelation that has sent shockwaves through the sporting world, Barman alleged that Nandini Agasara should be ineligible to compete due to her transgender identity.
Barman spoke exclusively to the Indian sports website The Bridge less than a day after securing a fourth-place finish at the Asian Games.
She declared, "If I do not get this medal which I deserved, I shall expose everyone. Everyone can see the injustice that I am being subjected to."
Barman's allegations revolve around the eligibility criteria for transgender athletes. She asserted that athletes with testosterone levels exceeding 2.5 cannot participate in events beyond 200 metres.
In her impassioned statement, she questioned Agasara's meteoric rise in heptathlon, suggesting that it was implausible for someone to achieve such high levels of performance after only four months of training, especially in a sport she herself had dedicated 13 years to mastering.
The controversy deepens with the reference to the latest World Athletics regulations, which came into effect on 31 March of this year. These regulations prohibit athletes who have experienced 'male puberty' from participating in female world rankings competitions.
Barman further disclosed that she had raised concerns about Agasara's eligibility previously, particularly after Agasara scored an impressive 5700 points at her first competition in the Inter-states before the Asian Games.
"I have protested earlier against her, I was surprised to see her name in the Asian Games list," Barman stated.
She added that federation officials had advised her to lodge another protest, emphasising that only medical professionals could verify such matters.
Barman implored for assistance with a heartfelt plea, saying, "I ask for help with folded hands."
The former Asian Games gold medallist also alleged that Agasara had left the Asian Games Village following her complaint. "We were supposed to leave Hangzhou on the 6th of October. She has fled after my complaint, saying her mother is sick because she knew there would be a test. Who got her the tickets?" Barman questioned.
After the heptathlon final on Sunday night, Barman was seen silently gesturing towards Agasara while leaving the mixed zone, indicating that reporters should focus on her competitor due to Agasara's extraordinary achievement.
However, subsequent developments have revealed the gravity of the situation, casting a shadow over the Asian Games and prompting a broader conversation about the eligibility of transgender athletes in sports.
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