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Discovery made after rider was targeted at Category 3 race in the Dordogne

An amateur cyclist in France has reportedly been caught using a hidden motor during a Category 3 race in the Dordogne.

The 43-year-old man, who has not been named, is said to have been in the sights of France's national anti-doping agency, the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), for some time.

Suspicions intensified following a race last week "where his ability to climb hills was striking," reports Telegramme.fr.

 

His bike was checked today by local Gendarmes at the Grand Prix de Saint-Michel-de-Double in an operation co-ordinated with the help of the AFLD's local representative, the former professional cyclist Christophe Basons, frozen out of the sport after raising suspicions that Lance Armstrong was doping.

State prosecutor for  Périgueux, Jean-François Mailhes, said: "We were advised by a representative of the AFLD of suspicions of [technological] fraud using an electonic system, in other words a little motor."

After the motor was found in the bike following the race, the rider was interviewed by Gendarmes, who are now trying to piece together his racing history and identify any prize money he may have won due to the illegal assistance.

"This wasn't an overnight operation," said the president of the French cycling federation (FFC), Michel Callot.

"My fear is that we'll find a lot of this kind of cheating in the amateur ranks because the technology is becoming accessible and we don't have the same means of detection as in professional cycling."

He added that he had requested the government and the UCI, whose new president, David Lappartient, has promised to combat motor doping for help in catching the cheats.

"I'm very sad for the amateur world," Callot added. "Among the pros, fear of the Gendarmes is without doubt much greater. 

"I think the stakes are also a lot higher if fraud is discovered [at pro level] for the sponsors and their image."

It is the first time a hidden motor has been found being used in competition in France.

One was found in an amateur race in Italy in August, however.

> Italian amateur accused of motor doping has a string of excuses

While there have been suspicions for almost a decade that hidden motors are being used at the highest levels of the sport, the only case uncovered to date relates to the motor found in the bike of the under-23 Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche at the UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships in 2016.

 

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.