NEW DELHI: Aruna Budda Reddy, the first Indian gymnast to clinch an individual medal at the Gymnastics World Cup, alleged on Thursday that she was videographed without her consent by one of the Sports Authority of India‘s (SAI) coaches during the process of her physical fitness test at the IGI stadium here in the month of March this year.
Aruna, who had won a bronze in the women’s vault at the Melbourne Worlds in 2018, has warned of initiating legal action against the coach after the Gymnastics Federation of India (GFI) informed her that it hadn’t authorised or ordered any person to video record her fitness evaluation test. The incident dates back to March 24, 2022 when Aruna – accompanied by her coach Manoj Rana – had come to Delhi for a test ahead of the Baku World Cup, as directed by the GFI.
The federation had formed a six-member committee for the purpose, which included women’s artistic gymnastics’ (WAG) technical committee chairman and Rio Olympian Dipa Karmakar’s coach, Bisheshwar Nandi, SAI coaches Rohit Jaiswal and Ashok Mishra, doctor Manoj Patil and a male and female physio who were attached to the gymnastics national camp at the IGI. According to Aruna, her entire clinical or manual assessment test conducted on her injured knee by Patil was filmed by “one of the trainees of Jaiswal” on the coach’s personal mobile phone without obtaining her consent. The assessment lasted for around 10 minutes.
The GFI should look into the allegations made by the sportsperson. If true, the incident is an invasion of privacy and a violation of due process. The errant official should then face disciplinary action.
TOI is withholding the identity of the trainee gymnast, who is a camper at the SAI’s National Centre of Excellence (NCoE) here.
After returning to her training base in Ambala following her knee check-up, Aruna demanded the video of her assessment to be shared by the committee and the federation, so that she could forward it to her orthopaedic surgeon to start her rehabilitation process. Aruna says she wrote several mails to GFI president Sudhir Mittal but got no response.
On May 24, the Telangana gymnast received a letter from Mittal. To her shock, she learnt that no videography of her clinical assessment was ordered by the federation.
“As for your request for video, please note that unlike a selection trial, this fitness evaluation of yours was not required to be video recorded. Accordingly, no videography was ordered by the federation and the federation does not possess any such video recording of that evaluation,” the mail read.
Taken aback, Aruna wrote back to Mittal: “Sir…I bring to your attention that the video of the fitness test was taken by (withholding name), student of Rohit Jaiswal and I have evidence to prove my point. And hence, I request your kind self to facilitate in obtaining the video from him (sic).”
“In any other case, I will be forced to take necessary steps as per law, because if the video has been taken without the permission of the federation, it is a serious crime. Moreover, taking a video of a woman player without her consent should have serious implications. Hence, I request you again to help me obtain the video for the purpose of my doctors’ observation,” read Aruna’s mail. TOI is in possession of all the mail exchanges between Aruna and Mittal since the gymnast first wrote to the federation president on March 29.
When Jaiswal was contacted for his comments, he said, “I am not aware about it and wouldn’t like to comment on the matter.”
It’s been learned that the matter has already reached the doorsteps of SAI’s director general (DG) Sandeep Pradhan. Sources informed that the accused SAI coach and athlete will soon be called to record their versions by the sports body.
Mittal told TOI that the federation doesn’t have any video recording of Aruna with it and the same has been confirmed by the committee members present during her clinical assessment. “Since she has already registered her complaint with the SAI DG, let the organisation look into the matter. Moreover, it concerns a SAI coach and it’s for him to answer the allegations. I checked with the committee members and they refused to have recorded any such video,” he said.
When told that the incident happened during the GFI’s camp, Mittal retorted: “I am not aware of any video recording. It could be baseless allegations. I have already explained myself in my mail to Aruna.”
Aruna’s coach Manoj Rana, who trains some of the country’s finest gymnasts like Ashish Kumar and Meghana Reddy, said he has evidence to prove that Aruna’s fitness was video recorded and that he would hand it over to SAI DG.