Mechanical doping: Chris Froome & Fabian Cancellara have their say

Tour de France champion Froome calls on UCI to conduct more checks for hidden motors

Tour de France champion Chris Froome has called on the UCI to perform more checks on bikes for concealed motors in the wake of the discovery of such a device at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder, Belgium at the weekend.

Fabian Cancellara, meanwhile, who has in the past faced allegations of benefiting from a hidden motor, says he wants to wait and see how the UCI handles the issue.

Team Sky rider Froome, speaking in Melbourne ahead of the Herald Sun Tour, has also urged world cycling’s governing body to fight mechanical doping in the same way it is seeking to stamp out the use of performance enhancing drugs.

"It's a concern that I've had," said Froome, quoted on abc.net.au, adding that it was “something that I've brought up with the UCI independent commission when I sat down with them.”

The commission’s report, published in March last year, said that the issue of concealed motors “was taken seriously, especially by top riders, and was not dismissed as being isolated.”

The motor found in a bike in the pit area during the women’s under-23 race in Zolder is the first time one has been discovered at an event.

In December, the UCI said its latest technology enabled commissaries to check bikes more quickly than before and that it would be testing it at the championships.

Froome said: "It would be my advice that the UCI implements controls and measures to start checking bikes more regularly, which, just speaking from personal experience over the last couple seasons, my bike's been checked and dismantled at least a dozen times.

"I think they are taking the threat seriously and hopefully this will mean that they only increase the number of checks they do on the WorldTour level."

> Ban hidden motor cheats for life, urges Eddy Merckx

Froome was also asked whether he would repeat the disclosure of his own performance data as he did during the Tour de France after suspicions he was doping were aired in the French media.

In December, the results of further tests he underwent at the GSK Human Performance Laboratory in West London were published in Esquire magazine.

> Froome releases performance data - but will it silence critics?

"People were asking for my data and, knowing that I had nothing to hide, I went and did the test and offered that data up publicly to everyone," Froome explained.

"I'm really happy with how that went down. Not to say that every athlete should do the same thing. I think it's everyone's personal prerogative if they want to do the same or not."

But he added: "The more data you release, the more of an edge you're going to give to your competitors, the more you're going to give away about yourself, about your physical capabilites.

"At the end of the day, my job is to race a bike as competitively as I can and with that in mind, I'm not saying that I'm not going to release anymore, but ... I'll look at each case as it comes and make the call on it."

Fabian Cancellara, who himself faced allegations of illegally using motor assistance in 2010, also spoke about the issue following a press conference ahead of the Dubai Tour.

> Video: Davide Cassani explains how motor doping may be done

He was asked about the weekend’s events when speaking to reporters from Cycling News, VeloNews and La Gazzetta dello Sport afterwards.

“For sure things have been written about it, but it’s difficult to have a clear idea about it all because we’ve got to see what emerges,” he said, quoted on Cycling News. “I’m curious. Let’s see.”

Quizzed about the video produced by cycling commentator and now Italian national team coach Davide Cassani in 2010 that sought to show how a motor could be hidden in a road bike frame, he countered: “Yeah but that’s an old story.”

Returning to the case of Van den Driessche, he said: “I want to wait for all the official statements. That’s how everything should normally be. If it is true or not, I have no idea.

“What the UCI is going to do, I don’t know, it’s just funny that there’s a lot of speculation on new things, on old things. I think we will see what comes.”

Cancellara was also asked whether he believed mechanical doping is worse than using perforfmance enhancing drugs, prompting his Trek Segafredo manager Luca Guercelina to intervene,

 “Excuse me, either we talk about the Dubai Tour, we’re not about engines,” he said. “I’m sorry, don’t do all the interview on that.”

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.