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Jaisha marathon row: Goyal denies responsibility, AFI claims Jaisha denied assistance

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 23 August 2016, 8:07 IST

On 22 August, while the whole nation busied themselves rejoicing the return of India's first ever female silver medallist P V Sindhu and her coach Gopichand, a heartbreaking story of incompetence and neglect on the part of India's olympic authorities in Rio emerged.

Jaisha, who finished 89th in Rio Olympics women`s marathon event with a timing of 2:47:19, collapsed after reaching the final mark, and claimed that it was negligence on the behalf of the Indian team at Rio that had caused her to collapse.

While running the marathon, she encountered a series of unstaffed Indian desks, and that there was nobody to give her water or refreshments in blistering 42 degree heat, Jaisha had alleged.

As the story started gaining ground, and people across the nation expressed their anger at the mismanagement and apathy displayed by the authorities, Sports Minister Vijay Goyal was quick to wash his hands off of any responsibility for the same.

Retorting to claims made by Indian athlete O.P Jaisha who alleged that she was not provided with water or energy drinks by the officials despite designated stations allotted to India during her marathon event, Union Sports Minister Vijay Goyal on Monday said that it the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) which was responsible to keep track of such matters.

Goyal said that he will definitely look into the matter, adding that the people of the nation should not blame Sports Ministry for this, as there are few things which are out of the preview of the Government.

"In lot of things the Sports Ministry is not directly involved. People of the nation think that the Sports Ministry is responsible for everything but this is not the case. In Olympics, the IOA and federations play a major role as they are the authorities which select the players, coach and the needed teams," he added.

The Athletics Federation of India however rubbished Jaisha's claims and insisted that they had done their bit, and it was Jaisha herself who had refused personalised drinks.

the AFI in a statement said: "Each team is allowed to keep their own personalised drinks on the booths, marked in a colour as per the choice of the team and athlete. Accordingly, as per the rule, on the night ahead of women's marathon race, Indian team manager carried 16 empty bottles, eight each for Jaisha and Kavita Raut and visited the duo and their coach Nikolai Snesarev in their room.

"The team manager asked them to provide their choice of personalised drink which would then be sealed in their presence and handed over to the organisers for installing them on the booth along with a placard as per the requirement of the athlete.

"In this case, the two athletes, Ms Jaisha and Ms Raut declined the offer and informed the Indian team manager that they didn't require personalised drink, and if at all they required it during the race, they would use the drinks available at the water booth and refreshment booth provided by the organisers," the AFI said.

The AFI said that as per rules, an athlete can to be disqualified if he or she accepts a drink from any other person or official standing along the course except taken on their own -- be it personalised drink submitted to the organisers in advance or the drinks provided by the organisers on the water and refreshment booths respectively.

"Therefore, it is an incorrect statement made by Ms OP Jaisha that the Indian officials accompanying the team did not provide her water or any other form of tonic drinks.

"Further, it is also informed that Ms Jaisha had declined to use personalised drink in another event, the 2015 World Championships held in Beijing and the coach informed the Indian team management that she wasn't in the habit of using personalised drinks."

The AFI said in the case of three Indian men marathon runners, their coach Surender Singh had requested for personalised drinks for them and the same was provided to them as per their requirement.

"The AFI vouches that the arrangement for marathon race organised by the OC 2016 Rio Olympic Games was commendable and as per the rules and regulations pertaining to conduct of a marathon race.

"As per the prevailing rules and regulations, the organisers installed one water point per every 2.5km and one refreshment booth per every 2.5km. The quantity of drinks was enough and the Rio organisers did a wonderful job on this front as per requirement for a marathon race.

"In addition, the organisers installed one medical booth per every 5km on the marathon course, and two ambulances accompanied the runners - one ahead and one behind the group of marathoners. This was also organised in Rio as per the rules and regulations and there was no reason to complain," the AFI said.

"We fail to comprehend why Ms Jaisha, who has been nurtured and trained with relentless dedication by the foreign expert and the AFI for years, chose to state incorrect information in her interview to a section of the media."

The AFI said that the Rio organisers acted swiftly and provided an ambulance within two minutes after Jaisha had fainted and within no time the Indian team manager and deputy chief coach of the Indian athletics team accompanied her to the hospital.

"In fact Dr Nikolai Snesarev out of concern for Ms Jaisha's health and safety even got into an altercation with a lady from the organising committee and faced time in a lock up for this purpose," the AFI said.

Reacting to Jaisha's claim in some reports that she was forced by her coach Nikolai to run for the marathon in Rio, the AFI said, "Ms Jaisha had qualified only for the marathon event for Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and hence she was not eligible to run in the 1500m race as claimed in her interview. This information is also incorrect and misleading."

--with Agency inputs

First published: 23 August 2016, 8:07 IST
 
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