Sources at Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM), Procam International and Asian Heart Institute (AHI) have contested unverified claims made by a Facebook user on the Mumbai Road Runners group wherein a narration was presented showing the organisers of the Mumbai Marathon to have allegedly compromised on the safety of the runners with under-equipped facilities. Pertinently, they have tracked down the runner on whom the post was based to get a correct version.
In order to prevent any misinformation on the issue, the marathon's organisers and Asian Heart Institute who have been the event's preferred medical partner for the last 17 years, took a strong position in its defence after the message which was posted on the social media site gained traction from users.
The organisers released an official statement in which they've denied that any such incident took place, while sources at the Asian Heart Institute have deemed the alleged sequence of events to be absurd.
'We can say with absolute authority that on race day morning, no such incident was reported to us by any department or team working on the event. None of the event volunteers were informed about this either, hence we are unable to comment on the details mentioned in the post,' reads the official statement.
The statement further reiterated that all emergency calls were directed to the event's Helpline number, which was listed as the Race Day Emergency Number and was also printed on the runners' bib so that the runners and volunteers could reach the doctors in adequate time from any spot.
Sources at TMM traced the runner referred to in the Facebook post and reached out to him for his comment. Identified as Govind Kumar (37), the Mumbai-based marathon runner stated he experienced severe cramps at the 20km mark and had to sit down. He was then tentatively helped by fellow runners, who gave him water and nourishment.
Kumar stated that he remained there for an extended period of time before he was taken to the AHI Medical Base Camp at Azad Maidan and was attended to by the medical team there. After his treatment, he was promptly discharged and is even back at work in his office.
Kumar sided with the hospital's statement on the issue and confirmed that he faced no such life-threatening emergency and has been a regular runner who has completed marathons before as well.
On Monday, January 20, a Facebook post was shared, with a seemingly direct message from a person claiming to be Dr Bina Apotikar, who vociferously attacked the organisers for allegedly being lackadaisical in their approach towards runners' safety.
The author of the post particularly addressed in detail an incident that happened to a runner who she claimed 'collapsed just 500 metres from the finish line'. The post explained in graphic detail the runner's condition and how the author had to attend to him for over two hours on account of allegedly poor facilities arranged by the organisers.
The medical team of the Asian Heart Institute issued a statement regarding the incident and expressed abject disbelief, poking holes in the claims. 'Having made elaborate medical arrangements, there was no way not even one person or doctor came to the runner's help, especially towards the finish line', revealed a source, insisting that the 3-minute proximity of Bombay Hospital would render a 2-hour streetside rescue unnecessary, if not dangerous. Additionally, they cited irregularities with the treatment that was allegedly offered.
One of the spokespersons with TMM quipped, 'Is the underdog always right? It's one single narrative versus the spirit of the city', further stating that there was no other explanation other than the fact that it was done to sabotage the event and defame the organisers.