The European Cycling Union (UEC) has said that mechanical doping “threatens the very lifeblood of our sport”, in a statement about the concealed motor found during examination of Femke Van den Driessche’s bike, following the Cyclocross World Championships last week.
Last week 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.
The UEC said that: “This sad event strikes a blow to the credibility of our sport, and reminds us that our organizations must be relentless in the fight against all types of fraud, whether chemical or technological. We must be intransigent in the defense of our values.”
The organisation also called for “fast, tough and effective action by all of our cycling families, especially our governing bodies.”
The statement also added that “it is essential to determine how such fraud occurred and who the accomplices were.”
The UEC urged the UCI to move fast to set up checks on further racing and “put an end to the growing climate of suspicion and preserve the image of cycling.”
Meanwhile, just days ago a former professional cyclist came forward to claim that he is in fact the owner of the bicycle found with a concealed motor.
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 last 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.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.