'They insist to compete in national cross country just a week ahead of the much important Mumbai Marathon where top runners will compete. Imagine, if your boss tells you each week, several times a day 'I stop your salary, I stop your salary', how you would feel...'
National athletics coach Nikolai Snesarev blasted the Railways for threatening his athletes -- the Olympics-bound trio of Sudha Singh, Lalita Babar and OP Jaisha.
Terming Railways an 'enemy' of the athletes, the Belarusian was furious at the bureaucracy which he said was killing the sport, pleading them to stop interfering in their preparation.
"They (Railway Sports Promotion Board) tell them ‘if you don't come for Railways cross country, national cross country, we would stop your salary’. Railways department does not understand how important are such type of tournaments," the 67-year-old said.
"They insist to compete in national cross country just a week ahead of the much important Mumbai Marathon where top runners will compete. Imagine, if your boss tells you each week, several times a day 'I stop your salary, I stop your salary', how you would feel..."
The Railways had their inter department cross country in Chiitranajan earlier this month while the national cross country is slated in Pune on January 9-10 as the Sudha, Babar (both Central Railway) and Jaisa (Eastern Railway), who are based in Ooty national camp, were "threatened" by their respective employers, he alleged.
Snesarev said travelling from Ooty to Chittaranjan in Burdwan district of West Bengal and back takes five days by train and Railways don't arrange air tickets.
"They (the athletes) still are preparing for medals and I'm surprised they've not lost motivation. But mine is almost lost... You have to understand how to spoil their preparation for cross country preparation," exclaimed Belarussian.
"Now tell me who are killing these girls? They are enemies of Indian sport. In your country you kill the best. I am ready to leave this team any second but due to their dedication I'm still here.
"Secondly I love your country. From my childhood I love India. Soviet Union and India were very close. I remember the T-shirts I wore were 'made in India'. They are golden girls of your nation, of our nation -- because I'm part of your country.
"They have improved their records five times in only year. And they are telling them to 'stop your salary, stop your salary'.
"Let me tell you, government allows the departments (Police, Customs, Railways) to pay their money to prepare for the tournaments and not for local completions," Snesarev, who is attached with Indian athletics since 2005, said.
Snesarev said Railways do not even pay for the athletes’ spikes and they have to spend three-four months' salary for the footwear.
"They pay from their own pocket to compete in all competitions (except this invitational meet). For all nationals they pay their money to get tickets. I convey my best regards to Railways through the media."
Known for his blatant attitude, Snesarev had shot off a resignation letter to Athletics Federation of India on the sidelines of Open National in September but added that things had improved drastically after that.
Showering praise on the Sports Authority of India, he added: "It's SAI who protected us from all this. Thanks to SAI, from October first time they paid for their air tickets.
"SAI helped us a lot. They pay for our air tickets from October. They arrange good camps now."
Snesarev was also livid at the Athletics Federation of India for insisting that he write a 400-word analysis on preparation to be published on their website.
"Do you think I'm a writer? I don't have good skill for writing in English, which is not even my native language... I sleep four-five hours a day. I wake up at 3.30am. I don't have enough time for analysis of their preparation."
Snesarev is accompanying the three long distance runners for the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K to be held in Kolkata on Sunday.