The Commonwealth Games Organising Committee is having a tough time explaining its decision to rent AlterG treadmills ahead of the globally used Technogym treadmills. While the supposedly NASA-recommended treadmills cost $65,000 (Rs 30 lakh) each, the Technogym treadmills are a much cheaper Rs 6-8 lakh.
If the OC's idea was to bring in cutting-edge equipment, the question of why they chose to do so for the two-week event as opposed to installing these machines at training centres, is a pertinent one. And, interestingly, India's elite athletes are as confused about the value of the new-fangled treadmills as anyone else.
Interestingly, the country's premier training facility, the National Institute of Sport in Patiala, uses Technogym treadmills. Athletes there told the Hindustan Times that they had never seen, or even heard of, the AlterG treadmills, in all their travels abroad representing India in competitions. In fact, the Athens and Beijing Olympics both had Technogym as equipment partners.
What's most mystifying is the OC's claim that the AlterG treadmills, which have an anti-gravity system that make you feel 20% lighter, will somehow help athletes. "If these treadmills improve the efficiency of players why not have them at the National Institute of Sport?" asked an Olympian, who did not want to be named.
Another player, who hoped the controversy would die down, said: "We are happy with our equipment here at NIS. The treadmills are world class and these are the same treadmills that were used in the Beijing Olympics."
India's elite athletes, drawn from disciplines as varied as boxing, wrestling, athletics, cycling and weightlifting, currently training on Technogym treadmills at NIS, Patiala, just can't understand why the OC is so keen on AlterG.
The controversy over the high cost of renting treadmills forced the OC to clarify that they would be buying some treadmills, for the athletes to use, while renting others at Games venues.
"We have not ordered treadmills worth Rs 9 lakhs. The picture shown in reports is a household treadmill," A K Saxena, who is the joint director for overlays, clarified on August 4. "The professional treadmill that we were shown costs around $60,000. A high-end treadmill with add-ons will cost $75,000."
The fact remains, however, that even the Rs 10.5 lakh that the Chandigarh Sports Department paid for high-end treadmills, is under the scanner.
It's alleged that the treadmills actually cost only Rs 6-8 lakh, and that prices were inflated when they were procured. The Central Bureau of Investigation has raided the premises and a probe is still on.