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OS18 - Dora Ratjen, the man competing as a woman

Sport: Other Sports Category: Athletics/Olympic Sports
Submitted by: Anonymous
Context:

Dora Ratjen grew up with 'ambigious' genitals and spent all his childhood dressed as a girl.  According to himself,  from the age of 10 or 11 I he started to realise he was male but his secret stayed with him for many years to come.  He competed as a female athlete and was drafted into the German team, in place of a Jewish athlete, for the 1936 Olympics, where he finished 4th,  The video shows him in this competition.  A year later he won the womens high jump at the German Athletics Championships and In 1938 Ratjen competed at the European Athletics Championships, and won the gold medal with a world record jump of 1.67 m (5 ft 5.75 in). In 1939 he broke the world record in the high jump again.  

Outcome:

In September 1938, Ratjen was revealed to be a man when he was reported to the police by the conductor of a train he was on from Vienna to Cologne. On being challenged by the police he admitted to being a man and told his story. A physician was called and confirmed that Ratjen was male. He was arrested, and further tests confirmed he was a man. A criminal investigation was launched until 10 March 1939, when the public prosecutor stated that he couldn't be convicted of fraud as there was no intention to reap financial reward. The gold medal won by Ratjen was returned and his name expunged from the records.

In 1939 a British athelete, Dorothy Tyler-Odam, broke the world record in the high jump with 1.66m, but Ratjen jumped higher soon afterwards.   As she suspected Ratjen of being a man she asked that his record be investigated and the governing body found 'her' serving as a waiter called Hermann Ratjen, so Tyleer-Odam got her world record back, although it wasn't officially recognised by  the IAAF until 1957.

In a 2009 film, Berlin 36, Dora Ratjen was represented as someone who could ensure that Hitler didn't have to watch a Jewish athlete, Gretel Bergmann, winning a gold medal for Germany at the Olympics, and so replaced her in the team. 

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