UCI reacts to criticism in French and Italian media mechanical doping investigation

Governing body says tablets are 'extremely efficient' in detecting hidden motors

Originally published on Cyclingnews


The UCI responded Sunday to an investigation by a French television programme and an Italian newspaper that suggested mechanical doping is taking place in the professional peloton and the UCI checks are not reliable.

In a statement sent to Cyclingnews via email Sunday evening, the governing body said it is confident it currently uses a method of detection that is “extremely efficient.”

“The UCI has been testing for technological fraud for many years, and with the objective of increasing the efficiency of these tests, we have been trialling new methods of detection over the last year,” the UCI said.

“We have looked at thermal imaging, x-ray and ultrasonic testing but by far the most cost effective, reliable and accurate method has proved to be magnetic resonance testing using software we have created in partnership with a company of specialist developers. The scanning is done with a tablet and enables an operator to test the frame and wheels of a bike in less than a minute.”

Extensive testing so far in 2016

Belgium’s femke van den driessche was found to have an electric motor in her bike earlier this year:

Belgium’s Femke Van Den Driessche was caught with a concealed motor at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in January

The magnetic resonance testing was used to detect a hidden motor at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in January at Heusden Zolder, where the UCI says it tested more than 100 bikes.

“We have tested bikes at many races this year (for example 216 at Tour of Flanders, 224 at Paris-Roubaix) and will continue to test heavily in all disciplines throughout the year. Co-operation from teams and riders as we have deployed these extensive tests has been excellent.”

Heat detector

An image from the corriere della sera report on mechanical doping: an image from the corriere della sera report on mechanical doping

A screenshot from the Corriere della Sera report

In a report broadcast Sunday evening on France’s Stade 2 and published earlier in the day in the Corriere della Sera newspaper in Italy, Thierry Vildary and Marco Bonarrigo said they used an expensive heat detector to spot hidden motors at both the Strade Bianche race in Tuscany and the Coppi e Bartali stage race.

The two-page article in Corriere della Sera claimed that the heat detector – which was disguised to look a video camera, managed to spot seven different motors being used at Strade Bianche and Coppi e Bartali. Five were hidden in the seat tube, with two hidden in the rear hub and cassette. The newspaper report and Stade 2 video report did not name any riders involved.

Teslameter: “not very reliable”

The theory goes that a crankshaft inside the seat tube drives the pedals: the theory goes that a crankshaft inside the seat tube drives the pedals

Over the winter, the UCI introduced strict rules against what it describes as technological fraud and has carried out regular bike checks at the start of races using a blue tablet teslameter device that apparently detects magnetic fields.

However, the Corriere della Sera article describes the UCI tablet as “not very reliable”.


The UCI disagreed with that claim, however, saying “we are confident that we now have a method of detection that is extremely efficient and easy to deploy.”