Mechanical doping: Bradley Wiggins says it's gone on for years

Multiple world and Olympic champ also reveals commissaires took his Hour Record bike apart

Sir Bradley Wiggins says he believes the motor found hidden in a bike at the Cyclo-cross World Championships at the weekend is not the first time such a device has been used in a cycle race, and that commissaires took his own bike apart after he set the new UCI Hour Record last June.

Speaking at the Dubai Tour, where Team Wiggins is racing, the multiple world and Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner said: “I think it’s probably been around for a while. For five years now they’ve had this suspicion because they’ve been checking the bikes.

“I think it is the first one they’ve found [correct – ed], but I’m sure that it has happened in the past, but they haven’t found them. It’s just one of those thigs.”

The bike found in Zolder on Saturday had been prepared by mechanics for Belgium’s Femke Van den Driessche to race in the Women’s Under-23 race.

She insists it belongs to a family friend – ex-pro cyclist Nico Van Muylder claims it is his – and that her mechanics mistakenly thought it was hers and washed and set it up for her.

> Family friend said to own THAT bike identified

“In a way, it is good that they found it because they’ve been checking them for five years now. They did it after the Hour Record; they took my bike to pieces. They didn’t give up with it, which is a good thing.”

Earlier this week, Eddy Merckx said that riders caught using concealed motors should be banned for life, a view Wiggins shares.

“I would probably agree with that,” he said. “But you’ve got to ask questions of the athlete. It’s one thing to choose to blood dope, but it’s another thing to choose to put a motor in your bike.

“Aside from ethically, you’ve got to ask a lot of questions of the athlete, especially the girl that they found it in because she was the favourite to win the race anyway.”

> Ban hidden motor cheats for life, says Eddy Merckx

Comparing using a hidden motor with cheating through taking banned substances, he said: “It’s different, I wouldn’t say it’s worse. I think that they’re both as bad as each other.

“I can understand why people would dope in terms of what’s to be gained from it financially but to stick a motor in your bike, I don’t understand the logic behind that and winning a race because you’ve got an extra 200-odd watts in your bottom bracket.

“It is the same thing as doping, but I can’t see the logic in it,” Wiggins added.

> All you need to know about concealed motors

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.