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Mechanical doping: Family friend said to own THAT bike identified

There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's owner of bike in hidden motor scandal...

A former professional cyclist claims he is the owner of the bicycle found with a concealed motor at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder, Belgium on Saturday.

Nico Van Muylder, aged 39, is a friend of the family of Femke Van den Driessche, the 19-year-old Belgian rider at the centre of the mechanical doping storm.

She claimed on Sunday that the bike in question belonged to a friend and had been left next to a team vehicle. She said the bike – like hers, a Wilier – was mistakenly washed by mechanics and prepped for her to race.

> Ban cheats using hidden motors for life, urges Eddy Merckx

According to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the press camped outside his house in Opdorp once it was rumoured he was the friend involved, but it was only yesterday evening that he returned there and made a simple statement: “All I can say is it’s my bike.”

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The newspaper says that Van Muylder himself achieved some notoriety in 2004 when he was indicted after punching another rider during a race.

Following his retirement from competitive cycling, he now runs a shop selling frites, while his current sporting passion is pigeon racing. 

Under the World Anti-Doping Code there is a defence to doping offences in relation to certain substances if the athlete can show there was “no significant fault or negligence” on their part.

However, the UCI regulations regarding technological fraud that apply in the Van den Driessche case provide no such exemption.

The onus is on the rider to prove that his or her bike meets UCI regulations, and “the presence within or on the margins of a cycling competition” of a non-compliant bike is sufficient for the offence to be committed.

Introduced on 30 January 2015 – a year to the day before Saturday’s discovery of the motorised bike – the regulations provide for a minimum ban of six months for the rider and a fine of between CHF20,000 and CHF200,000.

> Mechanical doping: All you need to know about concealed motors

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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