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.
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.”
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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.