According to Dutee, the Facebook post put out by her was wrongly viewed in order to spread “negativity” and create a “controversy”, which boiled over to the point that the state government reacted strongly by releasing the financial details of the double Asian Games medallist.
“When I posted about selling my BMW car on Facebook, nowhere did I mention that I need money to fund my training…I kept that post till 10 pm on that night; but when I saw it was being misinterpreted and leading to controversy and negativity, I deleted it,” the 24-year-old track athlete told TimesofIndia.com.
Dutee won silver medals in the women’s 100m and 200m events at the Asian Games in 2018, after which the Odisha government awarded her with Rs 3 crore. The press statement released by the state government’s Department of Sports and Youth services mentioned a total of Rs 4.09 crore, including the Rs 3 crore prize money, as the total financial support given to Dutee after 2015.
“I am not the only Odisha athlete being supported by the state government, there are many others, Srabani Nanda, Amiya Mullick, Purnima Hembram, some hockey athletes as well. Their details have never been revealed, but directly I have been countered,” said Dutee.
“I am disappointed now, because nowhere in the world or in India has anybody (governments) revealed to the media what amount of money has been spent in the training of an athlete, whether it is Hima Das, Neeraj Chopra, Abhinav Bindra or PV Sindhu.”
Dutee said the government’s actions have her hurt deeply, while adding that she has submitted bills for each and every thing she did with the funds for her training.
“The other Rs 50 lakh too (mentioned in the press release) I have never denied about…I have spent all that (on my training) and submitted the bills as well,” Dutee further told TimesofIndia.com.
“That was sanctioned for the Olympics in 2020. I need money because the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed (to 2021). Had it not been the case. I would not have said that I need money. I didn’t feel right to ask for money when the country is fighting COVID-19 and everybody is making donations. That is why I wanted to sell my car.”
Dutee, who has fought many off-track battles and rose to fame from a modest background, said that she didn’t ask for prize money in the crores and feels humiliated now to be reminded of that by way of a press release.
“Rs 3 crore was for my (Asian Games) medals. I didn’t ask for it. You decided. And where I invested it all the public knows. I built a house for my family, bought a car for myself and the rest invested in my sports career.”
“I didn’t say you (Odisha government) didn’t support me. You did and I won medals in return. I won medals at the South Asian Games, Asian Championships (also two medals in the Asian Games), and participated in the Rio Olympics. You invested in me and I paid back.”
“If any athlete is doing well, then it’s the responsibility of the government to support the athlete.” Dutee told TimesofIndia.com.
Dutee also went on to counter the government’s claim that she doesn’t have to work for the salary she receives from her job with the public sector undertaking Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
“They say I don’t have to do any duty for my job. Don’t they see that I sweat and work hard day and night to train?”
According to the details of the funds released on Thursday, Dutee has been given Rs 29 lakh for her training by her employers, the Odisha Mining Corporation. Dutee, however, suggested that the OMC should give exact details of how much funds they have released to help her.
Dutee said that she is being portrayed in a wrong manner due to the state government’s reaction to her Facebook post, and it is damaging her image.
“Why am I being humiliated in the entire state?…I am disappointed about that…After that press release, everybody is saying that Dutee has a lot of money but is lying….My my self-respect is getting hurt,” said Dutee, who is the first openly gay Indian sportsperson and made a stellar return to the track after winning her battle against hyperandrogenism in 2015.
“You (Odisha government) spent crores in organising the (2018) Hockey World Cup. Did you ever issue a press release to declare how much you spent for the tournament?” she further asked.
“Are you humiliating me or the state? What will people think?”