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UCI tests can’t detect some hidden motors, claims report

Current equipment is unable to find motors hidden in rear wheels, according to multinational media investigation

Tests conducted by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, are unable to detect some forms of hidden motors, according to a media investigation.

TV channel France 2 and Italian newspaper La Corriere della Sera which have both previously collaborated in investigating so-called ‘technological fraud’ partnered with German broadcaster ARD for their latest report.

Their report claims that the UCI’s current method of trying to detect hidden motors, which involves a bespoke iPad app that seeks to detect electromagnetic waves, cannot find the latest type of concealed motors, which are believed to be hidden within rear wheel rims.

The only instance of a hidden motor being found in competition happened at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder, Belgium in 2016.

The motor was found in a bike belonging to the Belgian under-23 rider, Femke Van Den Driessche, but was an older type that was housed in the seat tube.

In a statement, the UCI said that it had carried out more than 40,000 tests for hidden motors in the past two years.

“The main testing method currently used by the UCI, magnetic resistance scanning, has proved to be highly effective both in tests and in actual use,” it said.

“Like any testing equipment, our scanners must be used correctly to be effective,” the UCI continued.

“We provide extensive training to our operators on how to use the equipment and how to interpret the results. It is clear that the people using our device in Sunday’s Stade 2 report had had no training.

“We have, immediately following the report, offered to meet with them to demonstrate how to use our scanners effectively.”

The governing body added: “Thermal imaging has been used on a number of occasions and can be useful, but is limited as it would only detect a motor when in use, or shortly after use when a motor is warm.

“‎We also occasionally use X-ray, but this is relatively slow, requires a great deal of space to ensure public safety, and is subject to widely varying legislation from country to country.”

The report comes two weeks before the UCI World Congress in Norway votes on whether to give Brian Cookson a second term as president or to replace him with France’s David Lappartient, who has made fighting motor doping a key electoral promise.

Lappartient, meanwhile, has called for preventative checks on team bikes which would be marked to show they had been checked.

“It’s not a witch hunt,” he said; “It’s the certainty that the system is safeguarded from the most underhand kind of doping.”

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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