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Cycling officials busted a Belgian rider in the first case of 'bike doping' ever

The UCI will address the matter of mechanical doping today.

Brian Cookson UCI president cycling
Brian Cookson UCI president cycling

CYCLING OFFICIALS YESTERDAY detained a bicycle used in competition at the cyclocross world championships in Zolder, Belgium, to investigate possible “technological fraud.”

If confirmed, it is believed to be the first official case of “mechanical doping” or “bike doping,” which on social media and in online forums has been long speculated to exist but never officially proved.

The International Cycling Union (known by its French abbreviation, UCI), published the following statement:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that pursuant to the UCI’s Regulations on technological fraud a bike has been detained for further investigation following checks at the Women’s Under 23 race of the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. This does not concern any of the riders on the podium. Further details will be shared in due course.

A UCI representative later told Business Insider by email that it was sticking to its statement and that its president, Brian Cookson, would address the issue at a press conference on Sunday.

The Belgian site Sporza said the country’s cycling federation reported that the bicycle was raced by Femke Van den Driessche.

Van den Driessche was among the race favorites, but she was forced to withdraw from the women’s under-23 race because of a mechanical problem toward the end.

“Our auditors detected mechanical fraud — it quickly became apparent that something was wrong,” UCI race coordinator Peter Van den Abeele told Sporza, according to the AFP. But Belgian state television claimed that a small motor had been discovered in the bicycle frame.

Sporza also reported that there were “electrical cables” seen coming out of the bike.

AFP reported that Belgian coach Rudy De Bie said he was “disgusted.”

“We thought that we had in Femke a great talent in the making but it seems that she fooled everyone,” he told Sporza.

Sven Nys, a veteran of cyclocross and one of its best riders, said he was shocked and disappointed.

UCI taking ‘bike doping’ seriously

The UCI has been taking the possibility of technological fraud seriously over the past few years. New penalties include disqualification, a suspension of six months, and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs (about $195,000). Teams could be fined 1 million francs (roughly $977,500).

Here are the UCI rules and penalties regarding technological fraud (PDF):

bike doping UCI rulesAP Photo/Steve Helber

Business Insider reported in September from the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, that the winner of the elite men's individual time trial, Vasil Kiryienka of Belarus, had his bike inspected for a motor after he crossed the finish line.

No motor was found.

This photo, provided to Business Insider during the road worlds in September, showed the device used to inspect the inside of Kiryienka's frame:

vasil_kiryienka_uci_bike_check_motor

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