Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has refuted marathon runner OP Jaisha’s claim of official apathy saying that it was the athlete and her coach who refused to avail the option of having energy drinks during the race at the recently concluded Rio Olympics.
“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 yesterday.
“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, Jaisha and 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 statement added.
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 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 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,” it further said.
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 noted.
Jaisha, who finished 89th in Rio Olympics women's marathon event with a below-par timing of 2:47:19, had alleged that Indian officials did not arrange for water and energy drinks during her race in the Rio Olympics run under scorching heat despite designated stations being given for the country.
“It was very hot there. I ran in scorching heat. There was no water for us, neither recovery drinks nor food. Only once in 8km did we get water (from Rio organisers) which did not help at all. All the countries had their stalls at every 2km but our country's stall was empty,” Jaisha said.
Jaisha collapsed at the finish line after completing the race and had to be rushed to a hospital where her coach Nikolai Snesarev got into an altercation with one of doctors and ended up being detained for half a day by local police.
The AFI also said 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, it said, adding that 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 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 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 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, it 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, "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 PTI Inputs