A Hungarian engineer who says that electric motors he has developed have been used in some of cycling’s biggest races claims the UCI blocked efforts by French police to detect hidden motors at this year’s Tour de France.
The governing body screened thousands of bikes during the race using an app coupled with a tablet computer, and heat detection equipment on loan from the French military was also used during the event.
However, Istvan Varjas told the Irish radio show Off the Ball that he believes the UCI’s technology is incapable of detecting the latest generation of motors.
He told the Newstalk FM show’s host, Ger Gilroy: “I was there with the LeMonds, with Kathy and Greg.
“They came, the Gendarmerie, to interrogate me. I asked them if they really wanted to grab the people using the motors.
“They said ‘yes, we are ready to fight against it. We want to grab the people who use it.’
“So I just told them what they need to do,” he continued. “They said they would do it. They went to make this kind of check, but the UCI refused to allow them to check the bikes.”
Varjas went on: “If you really want to get those using these motors, you can very easily grab them. I explained them how it is possible.
“The police tried to do this, but from the UCI they were not allowed to do it. They said it was not necessary.”
He insisted “the scandal,” rather than being about the identity of any riders who might be using a hidden motor, was that “there is an organisation who has to stop this problem and they don’t do it.”
He added: “I think they are accomplices or something like this. I can’t accuse, but this happened this summer. I was witness, Kathy was a witness, and the Gendarmerie were witnesses to this thing.”
The UCI has been scanning bikes at major races since the discovery of a hidden motor earlier this year in a bike prepared for Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van Den Driessche at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships.
But French TV programme Stade 2, in a joint investigation with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, has claimed that concealed motors have been used this year in races including Strade Bianche.
In June, the programme also alleged that a UCI official tipped off electric road bike manufacturer Typhoon that police intended to investigate allegations of motor doping at last year’s Tour de France, with a voicemail message referring to a “Hungarian” – believed to be Varjas – who was due to visit the race.
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.