Sports Minister Vijay Goel has set up a two-member committee to investigate the allegation of athlete OP Jaisha that Indian officials were not present to give her refreshments as she ran the marathon at the Rio Olympics.
- The committee, made up of two officials, will submit its report in seven days, the government said.
- Jaisha, 33, has said she collapsed at the finish line as she had to run the grueling 42-km race without support from Indian officials who were missing at desks placed by countries a few kilometres apart so that their competitors can be offered refreshments.
- CK Valson, a top Athletics Federation of India or AFI official has said it is untrue that officials were missing. He said Jaisha and her coach had refused the offer to have refreshments served at the counters that Indian officials could have manned.
- Jaisha, who placed 89th in the race, said she did not refuse refreshments. “Why would I lie? There was no water in Rio…I am not blaming the Sports Authority of India or the administration…After 21 km, I was really exhausted, I couldn’t even walk for a metre,” the Kerala athlete told NDTV.
- She also sought an inquiry, alleging, “I am sure that had something grave happened to me, AFI would have still said that OP Jaisha didn’t avail refreshment.”
- Jaisha has said that while other countries had set up desks every 2.5 km to offer their runners liquids, she had to rely on official Olympics counters, placed about 8 km apart. “You need water after each kilometre. Other athletes were getting food along the way. I got nothing,” Jaisha said.
- She said while she struggled and collapsed, Indian officials had no idea about her condition. “After three hours, they came looking for me to the medical centre,” she said.
- The Athletics Federation has categorically denied that no Indian official was present when Jaisha reached the finish line and fainted. Mr Valson was present there with a deputy coach and a doctor, AFI said.
- The long-distance runner has also complained that she was compelled to run the marathon by her coach at the Olympics though she did not want to, having trained for the 1500-metre race.
- The AFI however said Jaisha had qualified only for the marathon at the Rio Games and hence was not eligible to run in the 1500m race.