A day after distance runner OP Jaisha alleged lack of support by athletics federation officials during the Rio Olympics marathon, the sports ministry on Tuesday launched a probe into her claims.
Sports minister Vijay Goel constituted a two-member panel, nominating Onkar Kedia, joint secretary in the sports ministry, and director-sports, Vivek Narayan, to probe the matter. The panel has been asked to submit its report within a week.
On Monday, Jaisha said Indian officials did not bother to make arrangements to provide water and energy drinks to her during the race despite designated stations after every 2.5km allocated for Indian athletes.
Jaisha finished 89th in the event with a below-par timing of 2 hours, 47 minutes and 19 seconds.
The Athletics Federation of India, in a press release, said Jaisha did not provide the correct facts to the media.
It said the Rio organising committee had made all the necessary arrangements. “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. The temperature was between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius, which is conducive for distance running like marathon,” it said.
According to the AFI, there was a medical booth every 5km along the route besides two ambulances – one in the front and another behind the bunch of runners. It said each country was allowed to keep its personalised drinks on the booths, marked in a colour as per the choice of the team and athlete.
As per the rule, the night before the marathon, the Indian team manager carried 16 empty bottles, eight each for Jaisha and the second runner Kavita Raut, for personalised drinks that would be sealed in their presence and handed over to the organisers for keeping them on the booth with a placard as per the requirement of the athlete. But both the athletes refused the personalised drinks and said they would only take water at the aid stations, according to a source.
It’s unclear whether the team doctors of the Indian contingent were of any help as they were radiologists and not sports medicine experts.
Kavita said since she didn’t practice taking special drinks during training, she didn’t want to try that in the race. But she was not approached by the team doctor to check her hydration or sweat rate 48 hours before the marathon.