The Sports Ministry inquiry committee, which was probing long-distance runner O P Jaisha’s complaint of not being provided water during the Rio Olympics marathon event, has blamed her coach Nikolai Snesarev for the fiasco.
In the two-page report, which the Ministry has accepted, it has been concluded that Snesarev refused personalised drinks for Jaisha ahead of the marathon even though Indian officials had asked him about the athlete’s requirements. “The Team leader, Mr. C K Valson and the Deputy Chief Coach, Mr. Radhakrishnan did ask Mr. Nikolai on the eve of the marathon if Ms Jaisha required any personalised drink. They were told that she did not require any personalised drink,” the report, which came out on Friday, stated.
“It cannot be conclusively determined whether Ms. OP Jaisha was personally asked by the team management or her coach if she wanted personalised drink,” it added.
The inquiry committee concluded that Jaisha, who had to be hospitalised after collapsing at the finish line owing to dehydration, had not requested for personalised drinks. Jaisha had expressed her disappointment at not having personalised drinks after coming back from Rio.
“Water as available to athletes in general was available to Ms OP Jaisha as well. Indian officials were not present at the booths where personalised drinks were kept, but this was because they did not have any request for personalised drink for Ms. O.P. Jaisha,” it said. “Other countries whose athletes requested for personalised drinks were present at the booths as per rules. Coach is the chief guide to an athlete and is required to take care of his/her interest.
“Ms. Jaisha’s coach, Mr. Nikolai should have been more careful in anticipating the requirements of Ms Jaisha during the marathon and projecting the same to the organisers. He also could have given the required advice/guidance to Ms Jaisha,” it added.
The committee recommended that in future events, written consent of the athlete should be taken on this matter to avoid any confusion. “In future marathon races, the decision of the athlete whether he/she will require any personalised drink may be taken in writing so that there is no ambiguity about it,” the report said.
“Athletes should be briefed in detail about the rules of the competitions, their entitlements, and facilities which would be available to them during the competitions including marathon. Marathoners should be briefed about the details of the route and the facilities available along the route,” it added.
The Ministry said it has accepted the recommendations and will act on them.