Refuting marathon runner OP Jaisha's claim of official apathy, Athletics Federation of India (AFI) issued a statement saying that it was the athlete and her coach who refused to avail the option of having energy drinks during the race at the Rio Olympics.
Jaisha on Monday had alleged that Indian officials did not arrange for water and energy drinks during her race in the Rio Olympics.
"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," said Jaisha who finished 89th in Rio Olympics women's marathon event with a below-par timing of 2:47:19.
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.
However, the AFI in a statement refuted all of her charges:
"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 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 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 Ms OP Jaisha that the Indian officials accompanying the team did not provide her water or any other form of tonic drinks.
Jaisha on Tuesday morning rebutted AFI's defence. Speaking to ANI she said,
Why would I say such a huge lie, when I have never complained even once in my entire sports career?: OP Jaisha pic.twitter.com/7nD2bjTlWq— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
How would the representatives of Athletics Federation Of India know the truth if they were not even there?, says OP Jaisha (Marathon Runner)— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
There are cameras everywhere now, they should check the cameras & they will get the answer: OP Jaisha on AFI's statement— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
I cant fight against the Govt or AFI & win maybe, but God & & I know the truth, and I owe that to sports: OP Jaisha on AFI statement— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
I am sure that had something grave happened to me, AFI would have still said that OP Jaisha didnt avail refreshment: OP Jaisha— ANI (@ANI_news) August 23, 2016
Meanwhile, Sports Minister Vijay Goel passes the buck to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and AFI:
"The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) keeps track of all these things. The people of the federation which were there, are supposed to take care of all these things.
IOA takes care of these things (lack of refreshments), I'll look into matter: Sports Min Vijay Goel on OP Jaisha pic.twitter.com/7GkNJc1dEt— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2016
"In lot of things the Sports Ministry is not directly involved. People of the nation think that the Sports Ministry is responsible for everything but this is not the case.
"I will definitely look into the matter and find out the real facts."