September 2 - Caster Semenya, South Africa's world 800 metres champion at the centre of a row over her gender, has received support from Santhi Soundarajan (pictured), an Indian runner stripped of her medal at the 2006 Asian Games in similar circumstances.

Soundarajan finished second in the 800m at the Games in Doha only to have her medal taken away after officials decided that she was not eligible to compete and is probably one of the few people in the people who understand what Semenya is currently going through.

She said: "She should not abandon the fight.

"I come from a small village and had no one to fight for me."

Like Semenya, Soundarajan, 28, comes from extremely modest beginnings.

Born in the village of Kathakkurichi to brick-kiln workers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, she was a versatile athlete in school, competing in field hockey, middle-distance running and javelin before enjoying a meteoric rise to finish second at the Asian Games.

But afterwards she was asked to undergo a sex test, which she failed, leading Asian Games officials to strip her of her medal.

Soundarajan was later diagnosed with AIS, or androgen insensitivity syndrome, a condition in which a genetic male is resistant to androgen's, the male sex hormones that include testosterone, leading the body to appear externally female.

She said: "It was difficult but now finally I feel okay."

The state government of Tamil Nadu awarded her a television set and a cash prize of $30,000 (£18,500) as a show of support after Doha.

Soundarajan now runs a sports academy in Pudukkottai, coaching about 68 athletes.

She "I like to train children who have not much money but lots of talent.

"I am living my dream through them.

"I am physically and mentally totally broken."

But Semenya should not give up, said Soundarajan.

She said: "She should not let them take away her medal.

"She is a woman and that's it, full stop.

"A gender test cannot take away from you who you are." 

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August 2009: Larry Eder: Semenya is victim of a witch hunt
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August 2009: Diack launches investigation as support grows for Semenya