"According to at least six doctors we have consulted, it is impossible for a person who has sired a child to pass the Barr body (sex determination) test," said Women's Tennis Association (WTA) executive director Jerry Diamond. He repudiated a claim by transsexual Dr. Renee Richards that she passed the test in Little Rock, Ark., last week and was therefore qualified to enter the U.S. Open at Forest Hills this summer.
"That is just not true," Richards said this week in an emotional telephone interview from Port Washington, N.Y., where she was participating in the Lionel Cup tournament.
"And it is utterly incomprehensible to me that any reputable physician would bring up the subject of the parenthood of a child.
"Whether I am the father or not is nobody's business but his family's," she said, speaking protectively about her 5-year-old son, Nikki, who lives with his mother, Barbara Raskind, in New York.
"This is horrible," Richards continued, her normally controlled voice rising with anger. "I have been protecting my son and his mother from notoriety and if I have to quit tennis to protect them I will. Renee Richards will disappear as a public figure tomorrow if any more publicity is brought to my son.
"As it is, it is a cloak and dagger scene every time I visit him," she said with bitterness. "It is an FBI-CIA charade. But I'm going to see that nothing disturbs them.
"Last September, after we had sent Nikki to Ireland to protect him from the television publicity, I said to Barbara that I wanted to go with her to meet him at the airport. Forest Hills was over and the publicity died down.
"She said no, that she didn't want him photographed with me picking him up. She prevailed and I didn't go. And when she got to the airport there were four photographers there. She had to sneak the child out the back door with the help of the port authority.
"I will protect my son," Richards said vehemently. "I will go back to practicing ophthalmology if I have to quit tennis. That is not what I want to do at all. It's not what I have my head into right now. But Nikki is a happy boy and I don't want to disturb that."
But the real question seems to be, how happy is Renee Richards? She has told friends that her few months of anonymity just after her sex change operation two years ago were the happiest in her life. But those same friends say she appears to enjoy the limelight all too much to be a private person.
She was under constant scrutiny last summer and fall after being characterized as a threat to women's tennis by stars like Chris Evert and Betty Stove. But, now, just as the publicity was growing slack, just as Richards was being accepted as just another 42-year-old face in the Lionel Cup draw, the flap over the Barr body test has brought the focus of attention back to her.
It is almost as if she manufactures situations where her credibility will be questioned, as if she invents conflicts to further her own martyrdom.
As a case in point, the circumstances under which she took the crucial Barr body test (the Olympic sex test required last year at Forest Hills for the first time) were questionable at best.
She called an old friend, Dr. F. T. Fraunfelder, now a Little Rock ophthamologist. Fraunfelder said (in a telephone interview) that all he did was administer the inside scraping of Richards' cheek. It was done at a tennis court facility, not in a medical office, he said.
"She prepared the slides herself and sprayed them with a fixative," Fraunfelder, reported. There were three witnesses to this hurry-up test, a test Richards thought she had to complete quickly in order to enter the French Open.
Lionel Cup tournament representatives Marcia Smelkinson and Pam Austin signed affidavits on the validity of the proceedings. And so did cub reporter Mark Albright, a 21-year-old senior and journalism major from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
Albright was then given custody of the four completed slides. He mailed one to David Gray, secretary of the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF), for pathological study. He took two slides to Fayetteville to the only laboratory he could find which would agree to study the slides. albright kept the fourth slide in his possession.
Albright, in a telephone interview, gave a solemn-sounding recitation. "I was there (at the tennis facility) and I saw him (Fraunfelder) prepare the scraping from inside the cheek. I didn't want to be taken in by all this and I watched as carefully as I could.I could see that the slide was clean and there was no switching of slides from her purse or anything like that.
"If the test was rigged, I don't know how it was done."
"But, why? Why would Richards, with her competent medical back-ground, entrust crucial laboratory specimens to a young reporter who might be vulnerable to accusations of switching slides just for a big story?
"She said she would like me to be a witness because I was the only reporter who had ever written an article about her without using the word "transsexual," Albright said. "She complimented me on that."
"The material was brought to us by Albright," confirmed Dr. Anderson Nettleship of Fayetteville, the pathologist whose laboratory did blind tests on Richards' slides and proclaimed them 24 per cent positive for female-type chromatin Barr bodies.
"We assume that Richards must be a mosaic patterns type," Nettleship said. "That's the best scientific explanation I can give. But I did establish a chain of evidence before I agreed to look at the slides. I had an order from the doctor in Little Rock (Fraunfelder) and the witnesses and Albright signed certificates of validation.
"I would stand behind the results from the lab."
Richards has said she will sue the USTA if it continues to insist that she take the test again in the controlled medical environment of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. "It is personal discrimination," she said.
She threatened to sue for the right to play in the U.S. Open last year, but has not yet filed.
"The results of this test vary from time to time," she said. "They (USTA) are going to ask me to take this test as many times as is required to get me to fail it. I won't take the Lenox Hill test."
It does not matter whether Richards is medically proven to be a man or a woman. It is enough that she is a sensitive and intelligent person who is trying hard to cope. It does not matter whether she is father or mother to her son; she is a loving parent. No woman tennis player should care whether she has a man's muscle mass or a female's curves; at 42, she is too old to win Forest Hills in either sexual category.
"I really like Renee," said old friend Fraunfelder. "I hope she can salvage herself. I really hope she makes it in life. She has a lot to offer."