Olympic marathon runner O P Jaisha, who collapsed during her run at the recently concluded Rio Games, on Tuesday criticised Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) statement on athlete not availing their services saying that Federation was making such comments without being present at the venue or knowing the entire truth behind her complaint.
"It was very hot there. I ran in scorching heat. There was no water for us, neither recovery drinks nor food. Only once in 8 km did we get water (from Rio organisers) which did not help at all. All the countries had their stalls at every 2 km but our country's stall was empty," said Jaisha who finished 89th in Rio Olympics women's marathon event with a below-par timing of 2:47:19.
According to ANI, Jaisha said, "There are cameras everywhere now, they should check the cameras and they will get the answer. Why would I say such a huge lie, when I have never complained even once in my entire sports career?"
"How would the representatives of Athletics Federation of India know the truth if they were not even there?" Jaisha asked.
Further, Jaisha said that while she knew that she might not win against AFI, she stood by her comments.
"I am sure that had something grave happened to me, AFI would have still said that OP Jaisha didn't avail refreshment," Jaisha added.
The claims and counter claims have left much to be answered for. More worryingly, the remarks show that there might be some discord between Jaisha and her coach.Collapse and altercation
Jaisha collapsed at the finish line after completing the race and had to be rushed to a hospital.
According to reports, her coach Nikolai Snesarev was involved in an altercation with one of the doctors there and was detained by the local police for several hours.
"We are supposed to be given drinks by our technical officials, it's the rule. We cannot take water from any other team. I saw the Indian board there but there was nothing. I had a lot of problem, I fainted after the race. I was administered glucose, I thought I would die," she recalled.
The runner claimed that she got no response from officials when she asked why water was not provided to her at the stalls.
"I asked officials why there was no water for us but I got no response. I don't know what they were doing. There were lot of people in the Indian athletics contingent, anybody could have done this job. I don't know where they were. I was in very bad shape. My coach was blamed for misbehaving with doctor but he was told Jaisha has almost died, what could he have done?" she asked.AFI disputes her claim
The AFI issued a statement after Jaisha's allegations of official apathy came to light.
"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 AFI said in a statement.
"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 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," AFI's statement said.
Additionally, AFI Secretary CK Valson told Hindustan Times that it was Jaisha's coach who took the call to not give additional refreshments to the runner.Personalised drinks were provided to other Indian athletes
The AFI also said that in the case of three Indian men's marathon runners, their coach Surender Singh had requested for personalised drinks for them and the same was provided to them according to 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 2.5 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," 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 added.
The AFI also said that the Rio organisers acted swiftly and provided an ambulance within two minutes after Jaisha had fainted. Further, the Indian team manager and deputy chief coach of the Indian athletics team accompanied her to the hospital.Jaisha says she was forced to run the marathon
According to a report by HT, Jaisha also claimed that she had not wanted to run in the marathon at the Olympics in the first place. She alleged that she was forced to participate in the event by her coach Nikolai Snesarev.
The report added that Jaisha and her coach have had "a prickly relationship" in the past.
According to HT, Jaisha, along with Lalita Babar and Sudha Singh, had qualified for the marathon, but she had been reluctant to participate in the event. The report cited her as having said in April that she wanted "to qualify for 1500 metres or 5,000 metres". The report added that Snesarev did not give her that opportunity and she had not spoken out then.
Reacting to Jaisha's claim in some reports that she was forced by her coach 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 1500 metres race as claimed in her interview. This information is also incorrect and misleading."