HARARE, Zimbabwe – A prize-winning track athlete who competed in women's events was actually a man, a court in Zimbabwe (search) has been told.
Samukaliso Sithole (search), who competed in domestic and regional competitions, faced charges of crimen injuria, or psychological offense, in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo, the state-run Herald newspaper reported Wednesday.
Prosecutors alleged Sithole offended the dignity and sexuality of a woman who befriended him, confided in him and felt comfortable being naked around him, all the while believing him to a woman, the newspaper said.
Sithole was identified as a man to the complainant by an acquaintance, as he and a group of women were preparing to travel by train to a track meet in Bulawayo, the court heard Tuesday.
Sithole tried to sprint away from the train station but was caught. Police then supervised a medical examination.
Sithole told the court he was born congenitally deformed. A tribal healer, known in the West as a witchdoctor, gave him "female status" but the spell didn't work properly because his family didn't pay the healer's full fee, Sithole said.
He will reappear in court on March 3 and faces a fine if convicted.
The Herald said the National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (search) was investigating the case and Sithole would likely be stripped of his titles and prize money.
The Sithole competed in women's triple jump, javelin, shot-put and running events, and brought home Zimbabwe's only gold medal from the Southern Region Athletics Championships in neighboring Botswana last June.