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Mechanical doping: UCI scan for hidden motors at Giro d'Italia (+ video)

Tinkoff posts video of governing body's official checking bike for technological fraud...

UCI officials were scanning bikes for concealed motors today before the start of Stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia in Modena.

The latest checks come a fortnight after the governing body revealed details of the technology it is employing, which use an app paired with a tablet computer to detect electromagnetic waves.

> UCI outlines how it checks for hidden motors

A video posted to Facebook earlier today by Tinkoff shows the scanning taking place on one of the team’s bikes, belonging to rider Pawel Poljanski.

The technology is the same as that used to find a concealed motor in the spare bike of Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in January, which resulted in her receiving a six-year ban.

So far, that is the only hidden motor the UCI has discovered – proof, perhaps, that the UCI’s technology is working as a deterrent, or that no-one in the pro peloton was using such a device in the first place.

An investigation by French and Italian media last month concluded that the UCI’s method of scanning for motors was ineffective, however, and that thermal imagining was a better way to catch the cheats.

> Hidden motors used at pro races, claim French and Italian media

The French TV show Stade 2 and Milan-based newspaper Il Corriere della Sera claimed that they had discovered heat signatures from concealed motors on seven bikes at races in Italy during March, including Strade Bianche.

The UCI has maintained, however, that it is confident it is taking the right approach – and added that since Van den Driessche’s bike was a spare and not in use, thermal imaging would not have detected the motor.

It added that it had“also carefully considered and tested alternatives, including thermal imaging, x-ray and ultrasonic testing,” but decided they were “much less effective” than scanning for electromagnetic waves.

“The UCI's trials of the current scanning method showed it is highly effective in detecting hidden motors or any components that could contribute to powered assistance,” it said.

“The scanner creates a magnetic field and the tablet then detects any interruptions to this magnetic field which can come from a motor, magnet or solid object such as a battery concealed in a frame or components.

“The scanners have proved to be a flexible, reliable and highly effective tool which enables large volumes of bikes to be tested in short periods,” it added.

The UCI also said that “It will continue to test heavily in all disciplines throughout the year.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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