UCI president Brian Cookson says that the Femke Van den Driessche case concerning a hidden motor found in one of the Belgian under-23 rider’s bikes at the Cyclo-cross World Championships in January is expected to be heard by the end of this month. He adds that the governing body is seeking “a very severe sanction.”
His comments, reported by Sky Sports News, came at the Track Cycling World Championships in London which ended yesterday, with Cookson confirming bikes were being scanned for illegal motors at the event at the Lee Valley VeloPark.
"We have been taking this issue very seriously. We will have tested more than 200 bikes by the end of these championships.
"We have developed a little bit of software with a specialist company, which works with an iPad or even an iPhone. It's a little gizmo that clips on and works with software to test for magnetic resonance and will indicate if there is anything suspicious on a frame or in wheels - any part of a bike - which can then lead to more invasive testing.
"This is what happened in Belgium at the Cyclo-cross World Championships. The very first time we used that technology in a competition situation, we discovered somebody, and that's a case that's ongoing," he added.
Van den Driessche, aged 19, insists that the bike belonged to a family friend and had been cleaned and prepared for her in error ahead of the race in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, won by Great Britain’s Evie Richards.
The bike, which she said she had sold to the friend, a male former professional rider, was not ridden in the race, according to reports, but it was present in the pit zone.
But UCI rules introduced last year on what it terms “technological fraud” are clear that “the presence within or on the margins of a cycling competition” of a non-compliant bike is sufficient for the offence to be committed, with the onus on the rider to prove it complies with the rules.
The regulations stipulate a minimum ban of six months for the rider and a fine ranging from CHF20,000 and CHF200,000 should she be found guilty by the UCI’s independent Disciplinary Commission.
After news broke of the discovery of the concealed motor, Dutch journalist and former pro cyclist Marijn de Vries said that the blame should not be placed on Van den Driessche, but rather the members of her entourage she holds responsible for the episode.
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.