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Cookson "absolutely clear" Femke Van den Driessche's bike contained a motor, in the first confirmed case of elite bike doping...
Image: Femke van den Driessche (BEL) (CC BY 2.0 by flowizm via Flickr)

A concealed motor has been found during examination of Femke Van den Driessche’s bike, during the Cyclocross World Championships, it was revealed today.  

At a press conference today UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) president, Brian Cookson, confirmed the bike the 19-year-old Belgian was riding, when she pulled out of the race with mechanical problems, was later found to contain a concealed motor.

Rumours have abounded over recent years of mechanical doping, but this is the first confirmed case in top-level competition.

UCI boss: Mechanical dopers will pay

"It's absolutely clear that there was technological fraud. There was a concealed motor. I don't think there are any secrets about that," Cookson said.

"Technological fraud is unacceptable.

"We want the minority who may consider cheating to know that, increasingly there is no place to hide, and sooner or later they will pay for the damage they’re causing to our sport." 

The bike was seized on Saturday after Van den Driessche, who was competing in the under-23 race, was forced to pull out with mechanical difficulties. According to reports, when the saddle was removed electrical cables were found in the seat tube.

Van den Driessche, who was among the favourites to win, denies knowledge of the motor, and says she has done nothing wrong.

A tearful Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel, Sporza: “It wasn’t my bike, it was that of a friend and was identical to mine”.

“This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race,”

She says she was “totally unaware” it was fitted with a hidden motor.

“I feel really terrible. I’m aware I have a big problem.

She added: "I have no fears of an inquiry into this. I have done nothing wrong”.

If found guilty of technological fraud a rider faces a minimum six-month suspension and a fine of between 20,000 (£13,700) to 200,000 Swiss francs (180,000 Euros).

 

48 comments

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don simon [1536 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Oh dear!

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BrianMcMahon [18 posts] 1 year ago
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Billion to one chance? shame on that friend

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Das [243 posts] 1 year ago
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Is anyone really surprised though? 

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StuInNorway [146 posts] 1 year ago
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OK, so they found a motor and some wires, so something was odd about the bike, however unless they also found a battery they motor would slow her down surely ???

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Grigor [9 posts] 1 year ago
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Trickle-down technology? Under 23 racing isn't the arena where this stuff gets developed (in my opinion) so I take this as an indication that motors have been used in the pro-peleton. Doesn't prove it, but stands as a strong hint in my eyes.

What I'm a bit baffled by is the fact that folk are still willing to risk it - given that the UCI are switched on to checking for it.

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Deltavelo [16 posts] 1 year ago
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StuinNorway, It was apparently found by radio waves being detected, so there must have been a battery in there somewhere. Question is, where does anyone get a Wilier e bike from? A lot of people must be involved.

 

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alotronic [532 posts] 1 year ago
10 likes

Her friends bike that was exactly the same down to saddle type, bike brand, saddle position, stem length, bar tape colour, pedal type...

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davel [1969 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
alotronic wrote:

Her friends bike that was exactly the same down to saddle type, bike brand, saddle position, stem length, bar tape colour, pedal type...

Exactly: there've been some tall excuses in cycling over the past few years, but this is right up there in the 'chinny reckon' stakes.

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bikebot [2119 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
StuInNorway wrote:

OK, so they found a motor and some wires, so something was odd about the bike, however unless they also found a battery they motor would slow her down surely ???

Maybe it used a dynamo instead of a battery.

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antonio [1168 posts] 1 year ago
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Lots of high tech seeking devices being extolled, how about taking the seat pin out and inserting a cavity camera  down the seat tube! 

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atlaz [255 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

If you can run an HGV through a scanner and find stowaways/explosives, it wouldn't be that hard to create some sort of bulk scanner looking for electronics. Anything abnormal could get a manual look; this way every single bike gets checked. 

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dafyddp [443 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
alotronic wrote:

Her friends bike that was exactly the same down to saddle type, bike brand, saddle position, stem length, bar tape colour, pedal type...

Which logically suggests it might be worth checking the bike her friend's riding!

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I love my bike [211 posts] 1 year ago
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davel wrote:
alotronic wrote:

Her friends bike that was exactly the same down to saddle type, bike brand, saddle position, stem length, bar tape colour, pedal type...

Exactly: there've been some tall excuses in cycling over the past few years, but this is right up there in the 'chinny reckon' stakes.

 

As she said it was one of her last year's bikes that she had passed on, it would be, but . . . . this friend/ex-friend needs to found (assuming they exist). Also the race mechanic who prepped the bike has some explaining to do, re not noticing the extra weight & button/switch to work the motor, and the need to charge a non Di2 bike!

At least

When asked if this could spell the end of her young career Van den Driessche said, “yes, I think so.”

So, at least no denial of the fact, unlike the chemical cheaters.

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gethinceri [24 posts] 1 year ago
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Mind-boggling.

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Veloism [75 posts] 1 year ago
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That excuse is hilarious. Complete and utter BS!

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Mike4Wales [4 posts] 1 year ago
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It's all about the bike  2

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Ban the rider and the entire team, make sure those involved are kicked out of competitive cycling for good. Cheating with hidden motors is just so outrageously blatant. Even with drugs or blood doping you can sort of raise a shadow of doubt over the testing or samples being swapped or being victim to a spiked drink or taking a med that has a different formulation to what you are used to but this is more red handed than finger painting with tomato soup. As others have intimated she may just be a test patsy for something bigger and I hope the UCI leave no stone unturned.

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Butty [218 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

You need to borrow a mate's bike for a World Championship?

Since it fits so perfectly, what other races did she have to borrow it for?

Who is this mate who needs a bike with a motor in it?

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SteppenHerring [353 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I'm intrigued that it could actually work. I've just weighed the battery from my phone and it was 42g (although not fully charged*) and claims to hold 9.8Wh. So, in other words, ignoring motor inefficiency and mechanical losses, it could generate almost 10 watts for an hour.  The Tesla electric car people claim a possible efficiency of around 80% battery to wheel power. This, however, is in an extremely expensive custom designed vehicle.  Something cobbled together in a seat tube would be lucky to get half that.

So, if you had half a kilo of battery, half a kilo of motor, half a kilo of assorted wires, gears etc. you might get an extra 50W for most of an hour for your extra 1.5kg. Maybe. And then there are cooling issues (have you felt how hot your phone gets during a protracted Angry Birds session?)

I still wonder if "mechanical doping" is actually practical and useful. I'd be interested to see the technical specs though.

 

*This is, of course, a joke

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Colin Peyresourde [1820 posts] 1 year ago
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To poster above, you can make loads of 'weight savings' on the frame build. Like Trek with the Emonda, you can make ultra-light weight frames, ones which do not conform to the UCI minimum weight restriction and build a motor into that. You would likely save a good deal of weight which might make the impantation of the motor more profitable. This, of course, requires collusion from the manufacturer. It makes my mind boggle. But there we are.

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Ghisallo [38 posts] 1 year ago
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Butty wrote:

You need to borrow a mate's bike for a World Championship?

Yes, this isn't as unusual as you might think for athletes in low-paying sports like cycling (especially women's). Not that the excuse seems credible on the face of it. We'll see.

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macrophotofly [295 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes
bikebot wrote:
StuInNorway wrote:

OK, so they found a motor and some wires, so something was odd about the bike, however unless they also found a battery they motor would slow her down surely ???

Maybe it used a dynamo instead of a battery.

That is the funniest thing anyone has said in a long while. Back to physics class with you!

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Hypoxic [54 posts] 1 year ago
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I think I'll request one of these for my next Xmas present! Anyone know when it's expected to hit the stores?

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mrmo [2096 posts] 1 year ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

 

So, if you had half a kilo of battery, half a kilo of motor, half a kilo of assorted wires, gears etc. you might get an extra 50W for most of an hour for your extra 1.5kg. Maybe. And then there are cooling issues

 

Not so certain for a Cross race, but in a road race, and the principle would work in a cross race to a point.

My take is as follows, at the top end the pros are turning out fairly similar numbers. Now if you can produce an extra 40 or 50 watts for 30secs at the right moment in a race, think Cancellara and how he destroyed the field a couple of years ago. I am not for a moment suggesting Cancellara was e-doping but you can see why the rumors arose. You really wouldn't need much in the way of battery or motor to do this. 

 

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1961BikiE [392 posts] 1 year ago
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Hypoxic wrote:

I think I'll request one of these for my next Xmas present! Anyone know when it's expected to hit the stores?

Already available. Cyclist magazine did a feature in an issue last year. I'll sort through my back issues and let you know.

One issue is that the motor generates a lot of torque so has to be secured to a seat tube designed to take the strain. The force is in a different plane to that for which a seat tube is designed.

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alexb [162 posts] 1 year ago
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The UCI needs to step in immediately, ban the rider, this should be treated the same as regular doping - 2 year ban minimum. They have to be complicit in this. There's no way they can use the bike without knowing this has been done.

Then the team needs to be hit really hard. This has to go right through the entire mechanical side, perhaps even to the frame manufacturer if there are substantial modifications.

A portable baggage X-ray system would spot theses easily. You could run every bike through at the end of every stage for the high profile events.

For lower profile events, fibre optic cameras would be a good start and cheap to implement.

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leaway2 [80 posts] 1 year ago
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SteppenHerring wrote:

 Something cobbled together

I think this would harldy be cobbled together. The crank must have been modified to add some kind of pinion gear arrangement.

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scrapper [74 posts] 1 year ago
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If anyone fancies one... a few thousand Euros and you can get hold of one it would seem...

http://vivax-assist.com/en/produkte/vivax-assist-4-0/vivax-assist_4-0.php

 

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jimhead [16 posts] 1 year ago
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scrapper wrote:

If anyone fancies one... a few thousand Euros and you can get hold of one it would seem...

http://vivax-assist.com/en/produkte/vivax-assist-4-0/vivax-assist_4-0.php

 

 

Notice the 'Invisible Performance Package' option.  They know their market.

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. . [190 posts] 1 year ago
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jimhead wrote:

Notice the 'Invisible Performance Package' option.  They know their market.

That seems to have the battery in a bottle cage, so not that stealthy.

 

Plenty of room in the down tube though

www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20150218_01537112

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