‘Please drive carefully’ is a liberally used term to warn motorists of road hazards. To the Indian cycling team however, it’s a gentle reminder of who pulls the strings at the end of the day.
As if the pushing and prodding for the procurement of 46 new cycles from England —which finally arrived ten days back — wasn’t hassling enough for the Indian team, it was learnt that they also had to sign a bond assuring the Sports Authority of India (SAI) that they will have to drive the cycles carefully.
Failing to do that, they have to pay for any damage to the cycle. The 46 cycles cost around Rs 1.5 crore.
“Our only aim is to ensure nobody should misuse the cycles since they are government property,” explained a SAI official.
And since the team members have not brought their own cycles, they are now forced to adhere to SAI’s new decree.
“During our camp at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, we were asked by SAI to sign a bond that will hold us responsible for theft or damage to the cycles.
SAI also said that we might even have to pay the entire amount if required,” said a cyclist who didn’t want to be named.
“Right now, we are using the cycles but if we had any inkling about this before, we would not have taken the cycles from them,” said another team member.
“We are professionals and will not damage the cycles on our own. If we keep thinking about the bond, we cannot give our best. That will definitely affect our performance.”
“We have already asked SAI to take back the cycles or remove the clause,” said a senior cyclist. “It’s up to them what they want from us --- the clause or the competition.”
A defensive chief coach Chayan Choudhary played down the incident saying it was normal and a ‘routine procedure’ for SAI to ask cyclists to agree to the clause.
“I don’t find anything wrong in it. Moreover cycles are insured, so I don’t think if any damage happens then the players have to foot the bill,” said Choudhary.