SAI ignored pleas for treatment of injury, says Manoj Kumar

Rajesh Rajound, Manoj’s coach and elder brother, writes a letter to Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, claiming the SAI hadn’t responded to a request for financial assistance despite reminders.

Manoj Kumar was a bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.   -  C. V. Subrahmanyam

Manoj Kumar, the Indian boxer, has claimed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) ignored his pleas for financial assistance to treat an injury picked up during the Asian Games in 2018.

The SAI hadn’t responded to his request for assistance in dealing with a groin injury despite reminders, according to a letter written by Rajesh Rajound, Manoj’s coach and elder brother, addressed to Rajyavardhan Rathore, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports.

In the letter, Rajound stated, “The concerned officials are deliberately playing politics in the matter and I request you, as a concerned Sports Minister, that an immediate inquiry be launched. I request you that steps be taken to ensure that he receives immediate and proper medical attention.”

No ‘concrete reply’

Manoj, a three-time Commonwealth Games medallist, has been out of action since the Asian Games in Indonesia due to his injury. He was omitted for the national camp earlier this year.

“All the medical reports were sent to the officials of SAI and the TOP (Target Olympic Podium) Scheme, on September 10, 2018, via email. The estimated cost of treatment mentioned by the hospital is ₹5,30,400. However, even after sending all the medical reports, I have yet to get any concrete reply from the concerned officials,” Rajound added.

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The SAI has hit back. An official, speaking to PTI on condition of anonymity, said Manoj had been assisted financially and that he hadn’t been completely forthright about his injuries. “Manoj is a senior boxer and was fully supported when he was under the TOPS. He was treated in Mumbai’s Kokilaben Hospital at the full cost of the government. But once he was dropped from the TOPS because of dip in his performance, we couldn’t support him fully,” the official stated.

The only assistance Manoj received, he claimed, was by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI). The SAI official, however, countered this claim; he said the boxer had been given aid even after being dropped from TOPS. “But we still kept on supporting him under the [National Sports Federation] scheme which only allows for treatment of injuries and not rehabilitation of an athlete,” the SAI official said.

“He repeatedly hid his injuries and wanted to be a part of the national camp. Still, we gave him the option of joining the camp at his own cost or his employer’s (Railways), but he denied,” he added.