Feb 2 2016
Forget performance-enhancing drugs – a cyclist was caught with a hidden motor inside her bike at a world championship race.
The electric motor was discovered inside the frame of the machine being used by teenager Femke Van den Driessche at the world cyclo-cross championship in Belgium, Brian Cookson, president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), said.
‘It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud. There was a concealed motor. I don’t think there are any secrets about that,’ Cookson told a news conference.
He added that the UCI had been ‘alive’ to the possibility that so-called ‘motorised doping’ had become a potential way that competitors could cheat.
‘We’ve heard some stories for a long time now about the possibility of this and we have been testing a number of bikes and a number of events for several months,’ he said.
‘I am committed and the UCI is committed to protecting the riders who do not want to cheat in whatever form and to make sure that the right riders win the race.’
The 19-year-old Van den Driessche denied suggestions she had deliberately cheated in the women’s under-23 race and was in tears as she told Belgian TV channel Sporza: ‘The bike was not mine. I would never cheat.’
‘This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.’
Van den Driessche said the bike looked identical to her own but belonged to her friend and that a team mechanic had given it her by mistake before the race.
The bike was taken for inspection along with others after she had pulled out on the last lap of Saturday’s race with a ‘mechanical problem’ and had to walk to the finish.
Van den Driessche said, ‘I’m aware I have a big problem. I have done nothing wrong.’