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.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.