Pro tour team Astana have threatened legal action while quashing claims that footage of Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali's stage 19 Tour de France crash suggested the rider was motor doping.
The incident, which took place on a wet descent as Nibali and race leader Chris Froome were chasing down a pack of GC contenders, was caught on camera by a race helicopter.
Footage shows Nibali's wheel spinning after the crash, which is where the motor doping claims have come from.
Astana were quick to issue a press release in which they emphasised their right to take legal action "in case someone will to threaten the image of the Team or of the athlete." The team were also quick to highlight their compliance with race officials, as well as the multiple instances in which their riders were subject to UCI motor doping checks.
The statement published on the Astana Pro Team website read:
"In relation with the suspects about the Vincenzo Nibali's rear wheel rotation during his fall in today's stage at Tour de France, the Astana Pro Team informs that during the three weeks of race we have been subjected to the UCI checks daily, always resulting perfectly in order.
"The Astana Pro Team and Vincenzo Nibali reserve the right to take legal action in case someone will to threaten the image of the Team or of the athlete."
The UCI have been using thermal imaging devices, among other unprecedented measures, at the year's Tour de France to combat the risk of riders using illegal motors to boost performance.
Motor doping came into the spotlight in January this year when Belgian rider Femke Van den Driesshe was caught using a motor at the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.
Since then the UCI has been on red alert, introducing a number of measures - including using tablet computers to search for motors - across ability groups, age groups and disciplines.
Top riders at this year's race have been subject to motor checks, which have apparently been made on four separate occasions; with UCI commissaires checking Chris Froome's bike for a motor after yesterday's stage.
Froome told Cycling News, though, that he was "happy they're doing the checks."
“Yes my bike was checked," the two-time Tour de France winner said. "But I’m happy they’re doing the checks. They’re probably needed considering all the rumours out there.
“I think most of the suspicion is on social media but they don’t come from nowhere, the technology exists.”
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