Bengaluru: Runner OP Jaisha has strongly refuted the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) allegation that she refused energy drinks as she ran the marathon at the Rio Olympics.
- OP Jaisha from Bengaluru ran the marathon at Olympics
- She collapsed after finishing, doctors say she's unwell
- Jaisha said she ran the 42-km race without support from Indian officials
Jaisha, 33, collapsed at the finish line and has said that she ran the gruelling 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.
But CK Valson, a top AFI official has said it is untrue that officials were missing. He said that Jaisha and her coach had refused the offer to have refreshments served at the counters that Indian officials could have manned.
"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 on Monday night.
"There needs to be an inquiry...I am sure that had something grave happened to me, AFI would have still said that OP Jaisha didn't avail refreshment," she told news agency ANI.
The Sports Ministry has now constituted a two-member committee to probe the allegations by Jaisha. "The Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Vijay Goel has constituted a two-member Committee consisting of Shri Onkar Kedia, Joint Secretary (Sports) and Shri Vivek Narayan, Director (Sports) to enquire into the allegations of Ms. O.P. Jaisha," a press release from ministry said.
During a marathon, competitors' countries are entitled to place a desk every 2.5 km to offer them liquids. Instead, it was official Olympics counters - placed about 8 km apart - that Jaisha had to rely on, the athlete has alleged.
"Running that distance, in that heat, you need so much water. There is a common water point after 8 km, but you need water after each kilometre. Other athletes were getting food along the way. I got nothing," she said.
Jaisha, who placed 89th in the marathon, has said that while she struggled, Indian officials had no idea about her condition. "After three hours, they came looking for me to the medical centre," she said.
AFI has categorically denied that no Indian official was present when Jaisha reached the finish line and collapsed. It said Mr Valson was present there with a deputy coach and a doctor.
The Kerala 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 said Jaisha had qualified only for the marathon at the Rio Games and hence was not eligible to run in the 1500m race.