Professional riders’ association the CPA has called on the UCI to tackle mechanical doping “with every means” available and to ban cheats for life.
The appeal by the organisation, chaired by Gianni Bugno, follows claims yesterday that seven bikes suspected of having been equipped with concealed motors were used in races in Italy last month, including Strade Bianche.
The allegations resulted from a joint investigation carried out by French sports TV programme Stade 2 and the Italian newspaper La Corriere della Sera which used thermal imaging equipment disguised as a camera to try and identify bikes with hidden motors.
The CPA said that the media outlets had “raised many questions.” It added that it hoped that the UCI “will take into account what is revealed by the news report to fight with every means this new scourge of cycling.”
When confronted with the footage as part of the Stade 2 programme, UCI president Brian Cookson expressed concern but said it was impossible to proceed without conclusive evidence of cheating.
However, the CPA has called on the governing body “to use exemplary and severe sanctions such as the suspension for life for the riders who have committed such misdeeds, because they unjustly besmirch honest cyclists.”
The discovery of a bike prepared for the Belgian under-23 cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche at the world championships at Zolder in January is the first – and to date only – time a bike with a hidden motor has been found by UCI officials.
As the scandal hit the headlines worldwide the Dutch journalist and former pro rider Marijn de Vries said that the blame did not lie entirely with the 19-year-old – who is not contesting disciplinary proceedings – and that members of her entourage should also be held responsible.
That has been echoed by the CPA, which said that besides individual riders who might seek to cheat through the use of concealed motors, it would contemplate legal action against others involved.
“The association of riders will retain the right to sue against [persons] unknown for such crimes because it is unthinkable that certain devices are used by individual riders without complicity,” it said.
Its statement concluded: “The CPA is also ready to co-operate with the UCI for the improvement of the controls during the races to find those who commit these shameful and unsportsmanlike crimes.”
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.