Peiris the Lankan hope in swimming

A tragedy which should not have taken place

Why? Wasn’t it preventable? 

Kaushalya Madushani, 25, was found dead at her home in Dummalasuriya on 24 April 2022 after allegedly committing suicide. She represented Sri Lanka in the women’s 400m hurdles and her last win came just a day before her demise at the 100th Sri Lanka Athletics Championship a few days ago. 

Now the question arises whether this wanton destruction of a blossoming life was preventable if the authorities managed to identify the malady, and at the same time, Madushani was given an insight about the IOC’s Safe Sports Policy which is now adopted by the NOC SL Women’s Committee working under the auspices of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka.  

The Safe Sports Policy is in effect for the past year or more, but, it does not seem that respective Federations and Sports bodies have really grasped the wisdom of the policy which could come in as a stitch in time under many circumstances. 

Madushani, a Kuliyapitiya resident, had competed in international 400m hurdles events for Sri Lanka. She was discovered hanging in her home. 

She finished second in the 400m hurdles at the 2014 Asian Junior Championships, bronze at the 2016 South Asian Athletics Championships, gold at the National 400m hurdles Championships, and silver at the 13th South Asian Athletics Championships in Nepal in 2019. 

As a matter of fact, the loss is for Sport, as a whole. The undeniable truth is a young lass, especially from a rural background and moving to the concrete jungle in the big city and the high-pressure sports environment, may be bewildering and the athlete may become susceptible to circumstances out of the ordinary and this may lead the athlete to seek shelter unsuspectingly. 

IOC safe sport initiatives 

Sport has long been recognised as a major contributor to positive health and well-being for participants; however, as a microcosm of society, sport is not immune from wider societal ills. 

The IOC firmly believes that harassment and abuse have no place in sport or in society, and advocates for safe sport, as the safety and wellbeing of athletes, are paramount. 

Sport is global; crossing cultures and laws, but there is only one culture that must apply: the culture of respect. 

Since 2004, the IOC has been developing programmes and initiatives to safeguard athletes from harassment and abuse in sport. 

Commissions 

The IOC prevention of harassment and abuse in sport (PHAS) initiatives have been established by the following four IOC Commissions: 

Athletes’ Commission 

Athletes’ Entourage Commission 

Medical and Scientific Commission 

Women in Sport Commission 

These IOC Commissions are represented on the IOC Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport (PHAS) Working Group, which is chaired by HRH Prince Feisal Al-Hussein. The IOC PHAS Working Group collaborates with subject matter experts and Olympic Movement stakeholders to develop and implement initiatives to safeguard athletes from harassment and abuse in sport. 

We must be more determined than ever to protect athletes. One case is one case too many. Together we can make a difference 

HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein, Jordan - IOC Member; IOC Women in Sport Commission Vice-Chair & IOC Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport Working Group Chair. 

The IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration 

IOC Safe Sport initiatives 

Olympic and Youth Olympic Games-related 

The Frameworks in place at the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games through which any reports during Games time can be reported and will be investigated. 

Education and Awareness-raising 

Specially developed educational tools and awareness-raising materials, which are free to take and share. 

Irony 

It is an irony that with the above tools in their possession, athletes with great futures are lost forever or they just decide to hang their boots prematurely.  

This is where the federations are at fault. The National Olympic Committee have already recognised the different circumstances that the athlete may fall victim to and have developed a mechanism that put out in black and white.  

The NOC SL also has reached out to the respective federations and Sports Bodies and have explained the value of its content, but, the lackadaisical attitude and the hesitance to think out-of-the-box have prevented the athletes from gaining the benefits of a scheme that at their doorstep for adoption.  

As a matter of fact, Safe Sport is being taken very seriously by the International Olympic Committee and they in the process of blanketing its content and make it a deterrent so that may help certain athletes who are susceptible. 

The situation is nothing new to Sri Lanka or the sports world as a whole. Though reportedly no one has taken his/her life over such conundrums, there have been cases of umpteen numbers of blossoming athletes suddenly giving up their sport or cutting short their overseas scholarship for reasons hidden behind a thin vail. Just have a peek beyond the veil, one could notice the eyes of anxiety crying out for help, but are hiding behind for reasons more than one.   

It is then – if the respective authorities from Federations and Sports bodies who are closer to the afflicted individuals could guide them and bring them back on track may be with the help of safe sport intervention. The only drawback so far is that the Federations themselves do not understand the value of this scheme in which the International Olympic Committee is laying a lot of emphasis lately.