Pune International Marathon: AFI, PIM organisers lock horns over permission rights

Pune marathon winner Ethiopian runner Belay Abadoyo who completed the 42 km distance in 2 hours 17 minutes, 35 seconds. (Sandeep Daundkar)

AS THE Athletics Federation of India (AFI) refused to endorse this year’s Pune International Marathon (PIM) citing the issue of payment of debt, a fresh war of words has erupted between the two bodies.

This has come as a big setback for the PIM organisers, as now, the timings and records set at the marathon will not be counted officially by AFI and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). In a desperate situation, PIM is now saying that it has got the necessary recognition from Association of International Marathons (AIMS), another organisation that keeps the record of the races and doesn’t require a certificate from AFI.

AFI, meanwhile, has revealed that PIM organisers didn’t even apply for the recognition letter and termed the event as “National Championship” on their website, misleading the national as well as international athletes. Manish Kumar, the chief operating officer of AFI, said that the federation was never informed about the event and they came to know about it after visiting the PIM website .

“When we called them to convey that “National Championship” status violates the rules of AFI, they said that it was a mistake by the web designer. On checking their website later, I found that the error had not been fixed. The truth is that they never applied for the recognition letter. Money doesn’t matter for us, but there is a procedure for organising such a big event, which the organisers should have followed,” said Kumar.

Reacting to this, PIM’s secretary Pralhad Sawant said, they had deposited one lakh rupees as royalty in the bank account of AFI four days before the race. The argument went back and forth with Kumar quickly reacting, “Nobody asked them to submit the money. Do they think that they can change the rules by paying money just four days before the event? The guidelines say that organisers have to seek permission a year in advance. “

Kumar added that the AFI is now planning to call a meeting of all the organisers to clarify things.

Asked about the issue, a PIM official, on condition of anonymity, said , “Why should we seek their permission? Maharashtra has been giving top runners to the country. We also have objections about the money that is charged as royalty by AFI. Even international bodies don’t ask more than Rs 70,000.”

However, the war of words between two parties is robbing the marathon of its reputation. “This decision will affect international marathon participants immensely. If I were a Kenyan or an Ethiopian, I would think twice before participating in this marathon next year,” said Vikas Kumar, NGO coordinator.