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UCI introduces tougher laws against motor doping

Vivax Assist motor
Joe Robinson
21 Mar 2018

New X-ray method to be introduced alongside tougher sanctions against guilty riders

The UCI announced today a new blueprint for detecting motorised doping in professional cycling. Among several new methods cycling's governing body will employ for detecting mechanical fraud are the use of thermal imaging cameras, magnometer tagging and a state-of-the-art X-ray machine.

Revealed in a presentation by UCI president David Lappartient and UCI equipment manager Jean-Christophe Peraud in Geneva, these latest protocols for mechanical doping seem to add substance to Lappartient's promise to clamp down on supposed motor doping in the professional peloton.

Key to the UCI's new approach to detecting mechanical fraud will be a state-of-the-art X-ray machine that will be big enough to contain bikes directly after the finish of a race, scanning the entire machine for prohibited components. The UCI also confirmed that the unit would be lined with lead in order to protect testers from harmful rays.

It is expected that the new methods will be deployed immediately, and will be used at 50 per cent of WorldTour races on the pro calendar, with plans to make it available for smaller, national races by the end of the year.

The UCI also confirmed tougher sanctions on any riders found guilty of mechanical fraud. It confirmed that an individual rider could face a fine between 20,000 and 200,000 CHF (approx. £1,500-£15,000) and a six month minimum suspension.

The rider's team will also be subject to a fine ranging between 100,000 and 1,000,000 CHF (approx. £75,000-£750,000).

Beyond the new X-ray method, the UCI has worked closely with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission to devise a magnometer tracker that can detect electromagnetic pulses from a frame although this will not be available to use soon.

Lappartient alluded to other potential avenues in the fight against motor doping including attaching tracking tags to wheels and the potential use of television images but neither methods have been set in stone at this stage.

Motor doping was thrust into the spotlight in 2016 when Femke Van den Driessche became the first cyclist to be banned by the UCI for mechanical fraud. The Belgian was handed a six year ban after the discovery of a motor in her bike at the under 23 cyclocross World Championships.

The discovery of a motor in Van den Driessche led to widespread speculation within professional cycling surrounding the use of motors with claims of mechanical fraud against Chris Froome and Fabian Cancellara again being resurfaced.

Most recently, former pro rider Phil Gaimon suggested in his latest book 'Draft Animals' that Cancellara motor doped during his career although the Swiss rider vehemently denies all accusations.

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