Millions of Indian sports fans watching the Rio Olympics recoiled in horror when woman wrestler Vinesh Phogat collapsed on the mat writhing in pain following a knee injury during the 48kg quarterfinal against China’s Sun Yanan.
While her suffering left even her opponent distraught, the Chief Medical Officer of the Indian contingent did not come forward to attend her despite being present in the arena.
That was because he was a radiologist and not a sports medicine expert. After the choice of personnel raised a controversy during the Games in August, the government confirmed this in parliament on Tuesday.
Pawandeep Singh’s inclusion in the support staff led to allegations of nepotism as well because his father, Tarlochan Singh, is a vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association. Pawandeep had also served as Chief Medical Officer in the South Asian Games.
CPI (M) Rajya Sabha MP, Ritabrata Banerjee, asked a question to the sports minister, Vijay Goel, whether a radiologist was sent as the Indian contingent’s doctor to Rio.
In his response, Goel provided details of the medical team which accompanied the squad to the house.
According to Goel, IOA has informed the sports ministry that Pawandeep is a radiologist while two others, Dr Kenjom Ngomidir, MBBS and PG diploma holder in sports medicine and Dr Rajkumar Singh Negi, MD with sub-speciality in musculoskeletal imaging, were also part of medical team.
Pawandeep’s presence in Brazil raised an uproar following media reports on a ‘pleasure trip’ of some.
Tarlochan defended his son’s inclusion in the contingent, claiming that Pawandeep was a qualified doctor and was also part of the Commonwealth Games and SAFF tournament.
Goel’s statement made no mention on whether the government planned to take any action on the issue.