Indian boxer Manoj Kumar has written to Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, rejecting allegations that he hid injuries in the run up to last year’s Asian Games and reasserting that the system failed him when he needed it. A two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, Manoj is currently being treated for a groin injury in Mumbai. He had alleged that the Sports Authority of India did not cooperate in paying for his treatment, a charge that the SAI denied and instead accused him of hiding injuries.
The allegations were made by his brother-cum-coach Rajesh Rajound in a letter to Rathore. Manoj has also now written to the Minister, stating that the charges made previously stand despite the rebuttal issued by SAI. "I am saddened by allegations that I hid injuries. In fact, I am shocked given that my struggles have never been a secret for them. I would like to tell them that I achieved what I did on the basis of merit. Yes, I lost in the Asian Games prelims but so did some others, why am I the only one targetted?" Manoj wrote in the letter.
Manoj had won a bronze in the Gold Coast CWG but lost in the preliminaries of the Asian Games a few months later.
He was then dropped from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), an initiative meant specifically to provide additional financial support to medal prospects in the marquee event.
"I have always made the team after giving trials and beating my rivals, none can question this. Those who cannot see my achievements are the ones who lied about the financial aid extended to me for my treatment (currently)," Manoj wrote.
"These officials are bent on proving me wrong instead of doing their jobs," he added.
The SAI has, however, maintained that it assisted Manoj even after his name was taken off the TOPS list.
"His previous letters (written by Rajound) were taken note of and even explanations were sought from the officials. The SAI’s detailed response in which his allegations were refuted came after due deliberation," an official told PTI.
Manoj, in his latest letter to Rathore, said after being "abandoned" by the Ministry as well as SAI, he has found support from Boxing Federation of India.
"But I don’t have any grudge against anyone. I am not even against any inpidual. I am merely pointing out flaws in a system which abandons athletes when they need it the most," he said.