The UCI says it carried out 1,425 mechanical doping tests during the Giro d’Italia. Over a thousand tests were conducted using magnetic scanning technology with a further 113 conducted by X-ray at the end of stages. The sport’s governing body says it is now ready to introduce additional testing methods.
Shortly after becoming UCI President, David Lappartient pledged to step up the fight against mechanical doping, saying that it would be a “disaster for the sport” if a top rider were caught using a hidden motor.
Cases are relatively rare. Last year a French amateur cyclist received a criminal conviction for using hidden motor and an Italian rider was caught the year before. The most high profile instance remains the motor found in a bike belonging to under-23 Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche at the UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships in 2016 for which she was handed a six-year ban.
Lappartient has previously said that he is “not 100 per cent sure” that the current method, which involves using tablet computers linked to an app, is foolproof and a new version of the magnetic scanning technology, said to offer “more powerful scanning, more intuitive images, and low cost,” is set to be in use from 2020.
The UCI has also been working with the Department of Technological Research at CEA Tech (French Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission) to develop a ‘tracker’ capable of detecting hidden motors at any point during a race.
The tracker, which detects magnetic signals, was placed on the bikes of several teams at last year’s Tour de France and the UCI now believes that it is a feasible method. The organisation is currently trying to identify an industrial partner to manufacture the trackers with a view to introducing them in 2020.
“Since last year, we have at our disposal a robust set of methods to counter the risks of technological fraud that allows us to check bikes at the start and finish lines,” said Lappartient.
“Research projects are continuing and shall enable us to be equipped with new technologies that can monitor equipment anytime during the competitions. We’re aiming to ensure that the cycling community has confidence in the performances of our athletes.”