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UCI claims testing for motors is 'highly effective' despite criticism

Chris Froome bike is checked for a motor on Stage 9 of the 2016 Tour de France
Joe Robinson
4 Sep 2017

In response to Stade 2 documentary, UCI claims its testing for motors remains adequate

The UCI has hit back at claims its testing for motors in bikes is ineffective with its latest statement. The UCI states that its testing method for detecting motors is highly accurate and remains the best form of detection. 

In response to FranceTV's Stade 2 report, that claimed the UCI's current method to not be adequate, the governing body released the press statement claiming that the 'method currently used by the UCI, magnetic resistance scanning, has proved to be highly effective both in tests and in actual use.'

The UCI currently uses a method of detection that looks to find hidden devices through magnetic resistance scanning via a tablet and an adapter that creates a fixed magnetic field. 

When placed near the bike, the tablet should detect any motors covertly hidden within the frame. This was the method used by the UCI in the detection of a motor in the bike of Femke Van Den Driessche at last year's cyclocross world championships.

Van Den Driessche became the first rider to be banned for the use of a motorised bike, being handed a six-year ban after being caught with the bike last season. 

However, Sunday's documentary on FranceTV's Stade 2 claimed that the method of detection used by the UCI would not be sufficient in finding all concealed motors.

The documentary proceeded to show the current technique failing to pick up motors concealed within bikes further claiming that the testing method also failed to detect motors within other parts of the bike besides the seat tube. 

The UCI hit back at this, claiming that the method of detection was used wrongly and have subsequently invited the makers of the documentary to be shown how to use it correctly. 

'It is clear that the people using our device in Sunday’s Stade 2 report had had no training. We have, immediately following the report, offered to meet with them to demonstrate how to use our scanners effectively,' the UCI said in the statement.

The UCI also used this opportunity to dispel the call for alternative testing methods. Amongst the alternatives is the use of thermal imaging which has often been supported as a more suitable test. 

Yet, the UCI has stated that due to flaws within this system, the current method of magnetic resistance scanning remains the most accurate and effective. 

'Thermal imaging has been used on a number of occasions and can be useful, but is limited as it would only detect a motor when in use, or shortly after use when a motor is warm.

'‎We also occasionally use X-ray, but this is relatively slow, requires a great deal of space to ensure public safety, and is subject to widely varying legislation from country to country.'

Since hitting the spotlight with Van Den Driessche last year, claims of motor doping have been almost as prevalent as traditional biological doping.

For many, it is assistance by motor that stands as the most likely form of cheating in today's professional peloton. 

Either way, it seems as if the UCI's current testing method could need some work and a review of the current system may be necessary.  

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