Conflict of interest whiff around Indian medical team at Rio 2016 Olympics

Some athletes and coaches say chief medical officer Pawandeep Singh's standard response to most complaints of injuries has been a dose of Combiflam.

Written by Shivani Naik , Mihir Vasavda | Rio De Janeiro | Updated: August 18, 2016 11:08 am
Indian Medical team Rio, Indian medical team Rio 2016 Olympics, India medical team Pawandeeo Singh, Chief Medical Officer India, Indian Olympic Association, IOA, Vinesh Phogat, Vinesh Phogat injury, Phogat stretchered off, India at Rio 2016 Olympics, Rio 2016 Olympics, Rio Olympics, Rio, Olympics Before Vinesh Phogat’s injury during her 48kg quarterfinal against China’s Yanan Sun two situations had arisen demanding the CMO Pawandeep Singh to be at hand to deal with the emergency. (Source: PTI)

As Vinesh Phogat was stretchered off from the wrestling arena to a waiting ambulance after suffering a freak injury, Indian contingent’s chief medical officer (CMO) Pawandeep Singh joined her in the tunnel. Pawandeep happens to be a radiologist, not a sports medicine doctor.

Incidentally, the second doctor with the Indian team in Rio, Col RS Negi, is also a radiologist. Negi has never attended any national championship, nor any National Games, and not even an inter-Services meet.

Pawandeep, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) officials say, has the experience of being the chief medical officer of the South Asian Games, and they claim he is also IOA’s medical officer although there is no mention of it on IOA’s website.

Pawandeep’s father Tarlochan Singh is a IOA vice-president. Negi, on the other hand, is a distant cousin and close friend of IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta.

But even before Vinesh’s injury during her 48kg quarterfinal against China’s Yanan Sun two situations had arisen demanding the CMO to be at hand to deal with the emergency.

When OP Jaisha fainted in the course of the marathon, coach Nikolai Snesarev had to scuffle with doctors to demand medical attention for his ward. Also when Saina Nehwal aggravated her injury, and suffered inflammation of the knee, she needed to consult the International Olympic Committee (IOC) doctors not only to get an all-clear but also because these ‘sports physicians’ had not been part of any camps and were virtually unknown to most athletes.

Hockey team vice-captain SV Sunil was treated by the team’s physio Shrikant Iyengar when he suffered a wrist injury during India’s group stage game against Canada. Iyengar, who has been with the team for close to a decade, accompanied Sunil for scans while Pawandeep wasn’t present, according to sources.

Some athletes and coaches say Pawandeep’s standard response to most complaints of injuries has been a dose of Combiflam. But his father Tarlochan hit out at the allegations, saying his son isn’t illiterate and is a respected doctor.

“He is chairman of IOA’s medical commission and held similar positions at the SAFF Games. Besides, he is also a member of Commonwealth Games Medical Commission. He is a genuine doctor,” he stresses. “He has sports medicine qualification from Germany. Plus, he has also been the captain of India’s Polo team. Why IOA has taken a radiologist is something the federation’s president or secretary can answer since they take the decisions.”

Negi’s posting is at Base Hospital, Guwahati, and he has earlier served in Delhi as a radiologist. He was then posted on the INSH Ashwani in Mumbai before finally at Guwahati – all the times as radiologist. Usually Army Institute of Sports, Pune, sends doctors accustomed to this job, but none was picked from there.

Instead, Mehta wrote to the Services Sports Control Board, asking them to relieve Negi from July 24 to August 23. Negi and Mehta both hail from Uttarakhand. “We are pleased to inform you that Col (Dr) RS Negi , MD, DNB, FRCR has been nominated as Doctor for the Indian Contingent,” Mehtra wrote in a letter dated May 23, addressed to the SSCB secretary.

Mehta couldn’t be reached for a comment and message sent to him went unanswered.

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  1. D
    Aug 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm
    Disgusting ways of IOA .Pl give your comments on Twitter and in social media to awaken these jokers and government has to answer it.Today our Olympian Saina is in the;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Enough of Nepotism,favoritism and sycophancy .Lets have a professional approach.Were they in any national camp.Father will get these Gubernatorial posts of medical commissions for their benefits.
    1. D
      Aug 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm
      Shame less officials of Indian contingent
      1. A
        Akshay rana
        Aug 22, 2016 at 3:32 pm
        One of the radiologist is MS Radiologist( Musco skeletal radiologist).. That means he can put a probe and instantly diagnose wat a physiotherapist and other docscan't do... And for God sake.. Physiotherapist is not a doc.. Kindly check ur facts before m aligning people.. Do responsible journalism
        1. S
          Aug 18, 2016 at 9:29 am
          This is really can they paly with the sentiments of our sportsmanlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Indian Olympic ociation -SHAME ON YOU ...You people are least bothered about anything just want to hold position through some Influence........Really disgusting and you above all you want our sportsperson to perform .................the government officials and sports authority must be sleeping on the so called 46 Inch Bench....
          1. A
            Sep 14, 2016 at 9:27 am
            His father is an ... what is the purpose of docs specialized in sports medicine then .... He thinks any educated person irrespective of his field can take on any responsibility ... Hope tomorrow he doesn't send his son to fly a plane carrying our sports persons saying he is educated and respected and would fly the plane well
            1. M
              Manu Arora
              Aug 22, 2016 at 8:38 am
              There aint a reason barring Relations for radiologist becoming Sports Doctors
              1. C
                Aug 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm
                No surprise here! Isn't the way we do things normally using "connections" wherever possible.
                1. K
                  Kamlesh Patel
                  Aug 23, 2016 at 2:53 am
                  Whatever it is we are Indian and we don't look for excuses we want medals by hook or my crook. This all Dr things can go on. SARCASTIC.
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