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French MP's call to criminalise mechanical doping rejected

Secretary of state for sport says government will produce report on the issue by the end of the year

A French parliamentarian’s proposal to criminalise mechanical doping in cycling was rejected by the country’s secretary of state for sport at the  National Assembly in Paris yesterday. However, he agreed that the government would compile a report on the subject by the end of this year.

Marc Le Fur, a member of the opposition Les Républicains party who represents the Côtes-d'Armor department in Brittany, had proposed bringing in a law that would punish offenders with a fine of up to 15,000 euro and a maximum jail term of seven years.

The proposals were aimed at preserving the ethical values of the sport, reports Le Télégramme, with the issue of mechanical doping the focus of several reports on the French TV show Stade 2 in recent months.

Those reports, which claim among other things that hidden motors were used at races including the Strade Bianche in 2016, came after a hidden motor was found in a bike belonging to Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van Den Driessche at last year’s UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

> Find all our coverage of mechanical doping here

Le Fur’s proposed legislation would have been aimed at those who use one or more “mechanical or technological aides that improve his or her physical performance and falsify the results of competitions he or she is engaged in.”

He said he wanted “to give powers of investigation and inquiry to the police and the Gendarmerie,” and “to make technological fraud a proper crime punishable with a fine of between 3,750 and 150,000 euro and between one and seven years in jail.”

But Jeanine Dubié of the centre-left RRDP group, who chairs a committee on ethics in sport, wondered whether “the public authorities should intervene directly in this area?”

Quoted on the website, Next Inpact, she added that the punishments suggested by Le Fur were disproportionate to the offences and therefore in conflict with constitutional principles.

Both she and secretary of state for sport, Thierry Braillard, maintained that laws regarding the regulation and transparency of sports left it to the governing body [the UCI] and national federations to carry out tests and sanction cases of technological fraud.

> Mechanical doping: No hidden motors found at Tour de France, says UCI

Dubié drew a distinction between doping and mechanical fraud. “If in this area there is no public health aspect, as there is in doping, it is possible that in future large-scale frauds may appear and put at risk the integrity of sport.”

Inviting Le Fur to withdraw his proposed amendment, Braillard agreed that the government would set before parliament by 31 December this year “a report regarding the creation of a crime of mechanical and technological fraud in sport and expanding the powers of the AFLD [France’s national anti-doping agency] to include mechanical and technological fraud.”

Le Fur said: “The amendment wasn’t accepted and I regret that. We’ve missed a chance to get ahead, to anticipate.

“France could have set an example in the issue of the fight against mechanical fraud, as the country does on the subject of doping,” he added.

> British Cycling hoping continued testing will discourage mechanical doping

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.

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