In spite of being physically present in the arena, India’s Chief Medical Officer, Pawandeep Tony Singh did not rush in to help woman wrestler Vinesh Phogat when she suffered a queer injury during her 48 kg quarter-final against China’s Sun Yanan in the Rio Olympics.
In another situation too, coach Nikolai Snesarev had to brawl with the doctors to demand medical attention for his ward OP Jaisha when she fainted in the course of her marathon run. Shrikant Iyengar, the hockey team’s physiologist who has been with the team for more than a decade, treated the team’s vice captain SV Sunil’s wrist injury which he suffered during India’s group stage game against Canada.
According to a report, an athlete who was not keen on sharing their identity said, “On visiting Pawandeep in the evening, I was told that my injury was completely fine. I resumed my normal training, but the next morning my pain aggravated even more. I then visited the International Olympic Council (IOC) doctor, who said that I had suffered a minor injury, but if I trained further it would have been aggravated. If I didn’t go to the IOC officials on that day, I would most likely miss my event due to injury.”
As a matter of fact ace Indian shuttler, Saina Nehwal too wasn’t happy with the way the Indian contingent’s medical team looked into her knee pain. The unnamed athlete said, “I know for a fact that Saina was feeling really uneasy about her injury post her first match against the Brazilian. She immediately rushed to the CMO, to talk about her inflammation. However, unhappy with the way they were approaching the problem, she approached the IOC about the problem. Saina is not someone who leaves anything to chance, so she didn’t hesitate when she saw apprehension.”
Dr Pawandeep Tony Singh, son of Sardar Tarlochan Singh, the Vice President of Indian Olympic Association, is a radiologist and not a sports medicine doctor. Radiologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries using medical imaging techniques. Why was there a need to appoint such a person as the CMO for the Indian contingent? His position in the team as the CMO led to nepotism allegations.
According to some reports, he mostly used to hang out at the hotel pools, prescribed Combiflam to everyone and started drinking at 3 pm every day.
Tarlochan Singh defended his son and told Hindustan Times from Ludhiana, “He (Pawandeep) isn’t illiterate. He was official medical head of the SAF Games, a member of the Commonwealth Games Medical Commission and a reputed international polo player who has represented India on many occasions.”
He further fumed that IOA President N Ramachandran appointed Pawandeep as the team’s CMO and only he can explain “why a radiologist was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer.”
The other two doctors who accompanied the team were Dr Kenjom Ngomidir, MBBS and PG diploma holder in sports medicine and Dr Rajkumar Singh Negi, MD with subspecialty in musculoskeletal imaging.
India’s Sports Minister Vijay Goel did address the issue but made no mention on the government’s plan to take any action on the issue.