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Top magistrates in France reportedly investigating motor doping

Specialist anti-fraud judges are said to suspect that some of cycling's biggest names may have used concealed motors...

Two leading magistrates based in Paris are reported by French newspaper Le Canard Enchainé to be investigating whether hidden motors are being used at the top levels of cycling.

The satirical newspaper, which like the UK’s Private Eye has a strong tradition of investigative journalism, says that the probe was launched last summer following a preliminary inquiry.

It is being conducted by two magistrates, Claire Thépaut and Serge Tournaire, from a specialist judicial unit based in Paris set up in 2014 to investigate high-profile cases related to fraud and corruption.

Aided by a dedicated anti-fraud unit of the Gendarmerie, the pair are reported to be focusing on the highest levels of the sport, and are said to suspect that some of cycling’s biggest stars may have benefited from the use of motors concealed in the frames of their bikes.

The newspaper notes that “extraterrestrial” performances in the mountains have given rise to suspicions that hidden motors are being used.

When used in the media in connection with cycling, the word – in French, “extraterrestre” – is generally seen as insinuating that a rider is cheating, and was regularly used to describe Lance Armstrong while he was racing.

The term was also employed by ex-pro and now TV pundit Laurent Jalabert to describe Chris Froome when the Team Sky rider won the first mountain stage of the 2015 Tour de France at La Pierre Saint-Martin in the Pyrenees.

UCI president David Lappartient has vowed to crack down on motor doping and said earlier this month that it would be a “disaster for the sport” if a leading rider were caught using a concealed motor.

> UCI president says he will step up fight against motor doping

To date, only one concealed motor has been discovered in competition, hidden in a bike prepared for Belgian under-23 rider Femke van Den Driessche at the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder.

Rumours persist of their use, however, and in November Lappartient appointed former pro Jean-Christophe Péraud, runner-up in the 2014 Tour de France and an engineer by profession, as the UCI’s manager of equipment and the fight against technological fraud.

> UCI appoints Tour de France runner-up to fight motor doping

The two magistrates reported to be investigating the issue of motor doping are big hitters within the French judicial profession.

Thépaut is well-known for her investigation of former President Nicolas Sarkozy over allegations of corruption and illegal financing of a political party.

Both she and Tournaire are involved in an ongoing investigation into claims that former Prime Minister Francois Fillon employed his wife in a fictitious position as parliamentary assistant.

The investigation was launched in January following an exposé in Le Canard Enchainé at a time when Fillon was frontrunner to win this year’s presidential election, his popularity in the opinion polls immediately plunging.

Simon joined road.cc 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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16 comments

Avatar
Reedo | 6 years ago
0 likes

Sounds like Lappartient knows something we don’t.  

Avatar
fenix replied to Reedo | 6 years ago
1 like
Reedo wrote:

Sounds like Lappartient knows something we don’t.  

More likely he wants to catch people's imagination like he has here. Until they present an electric bike under a pro rider I won't believe it. You know what your mates are capable of. If someone can suddenly do 100w extra then you'd be onto them straight away.

Avatar
Legin | 6 years ago
0 likes

This is bollocks. Just another attack on the sport by those with nothing better to do. The vast majority of compeitors in cycling don't cheat, as the vast majority in all sports don't cheat. All the negative crap is just boring!

Avatar
Legin | 6 years ago
0 likes

This is bollocks. Just another attack on the sport by those with nothing better to do. The vast majority of compeitors in cycling don't cheat, as the vast majority in all sports don't cheat. All the negative crap is just boring!

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fenix | 6 years ago
0 likes

Nobody on a top pro team could get away with this. Privateers would be the one's to watch.

Avatar
Reedo replied to fenix | 6 years ago
1 like
fenix wrote:

Nobody on a top pro team could get away with this. Privateers would be the one's to watch.

unless, say, he had his own personal mechanic. 

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Simon E | 6 years ago
2 likes

A literal translation rarely does justice to the original, especially for satire.

Seems to me to be an awful lot of fuss and commotion if it's based solely on rumours.

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Leviathan | 6 years ago
0 likes

The Chained Duck? What kind of publication is this?

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Yorkshire wallet replied to Leviathan | 6 years ago
0 likes
Leviathan wrote:

The Chained Duck? What kind of publication is this?

A shit one. French 'satire' must be scared of Muslims now so cycle teams will have to do.

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davel | 6 years ago
5 likes

Laurent Jalabert is a bellend. Laurent Jalabert is French. Ergo, all Frenchies are Laurent Jalabert.

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andyp | 6 years ago
2 likes

'At least their national team isn't responsible for ferrying drugs about the continent for pro riders.'

 

Whose national team *is* doing this?

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Jackson replied to andyp | 6 years ago
6 likes
andyp wrote:

'At least their national team isn't responsible for ferrying drugs about the continent for pro riders.'

 

Whose national team *is* doing this?

Very good, you might be able to get a job there

Avatar
Jackson | 6 years ago
4 likes

Keep going with the tinfoil hat stuff about the French. At least their national team isn't responsible for ferrying drugs about the continent for pro riders.
Also they tend to treat doping pretty seriously there, as Brailsford and Millar found when one had to try and get the other out of a French nick.

Avatar
EddyBerckx replied to Jackson | 6 years ago
5 likes
Jackson wrote:

Keep going with the tinfoil hat stuff about the French. At least their national team isn't responsible for ferrying drugs about the continent for pro riders.
Also they tend to treat doping pretty seriously there, as Brailsford and Millar found when one had to try and get the other out of a French nick.

People like you fill the comment boards on pro cycling stories. If you believe everyone is guilty then you should either stop watching it or accept it and chill a bit.

If you know your cycling history then you can't say it's a new thing or something invented by team sky (who are yet to be convicted of a proper offence, the lightweights) so whats thr deal? Genuine question.

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Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
7 likes

I bet none of the suspects will be French.

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Grahamd replied to Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
3 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

I bet none of the suspects will be French.

Mon Dieu, of course not. We all know the French would never cheat!

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