Govt. sets up committee to probe allegations of marathon runner O.P.Jaisha
New Delhi, August 23, 2016
Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel today constituted a two-member committee to inquire into the allegations made by runner O P Jaisha, who had collapsed at the end of the marathon in the Rio Olympics and blamed Indian officials for not providing water and energy drinks at refreshment points along the route.
An official press release said the committee would consist of Mr. Onkar Kedia, Joint Secretary (Sports) and Mr. Vivek Narayan, Director (Sports).
The two member committee will submit its report in seven days, the release said.
Jaisha had alleged that there were no Indian officials present at the stalls set up for the purpose while there were officials from all other countries to provide refreshments to their runners at designated points after every 2.5 km.
She managed to complete the race, finishing 89th with a timing of 2:47:19. but collapsed immediately after crossing the finishing line because of the scorching heat which had left her dehydrated. She had to be rushed to a hospital.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) denied the allegations and claimed that the arrangements were made in consultation with Jaisha and other Indian runners. However, Jaisha told journalists that video footage of the race would prove that she was right.
She said she got water only once in 8 km from the Rio organisers, which was inadequate.
The AFI issued a statement yesterday which said that Jaisha and her coach had refused to avail the option of having energy drinks.
"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 statement said.
"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, according to the rules, an athlete can be disqualified if he or she accepts a drink from any other person or official standing along the route 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 statement added.
"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 2.5 km and one refreshment booth per every 2.5 km. The quantity of drinks was enough and the Rio organisers did a wonderful job on this front as per requirement for a marathon race," it 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," it added.