UCI president David Lappartient has said that the governing body will step up its fight against mechanical doping and that it would be a “disaster for the sport” if a top rider were caught using a hidden motor.
The Frenchman, who replaced Great Britain’s Brian Cookson after defeating him in September’s presidential election, also said that he is looking to tighten up regulations surrounding therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs).
Speaking to Jeremy Whittle of The Times, Lappartient said: “I worry that motors have been used. I have no proof but it’s not impossible.
“Now I want to be sure that we deliver a sport without doping and without motors. That’s the job of the UCI, to guarantee credibility.”
To date, only one concealed motor has been found in competition – the one discovered in a bike prepared for Belgian under-23 rider Femke van Den Driessche at the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zolder.
Lappartient said that another discovery of a concealed motor at a major event “would be a disaster. I have to be sure that this will never happen.
“I have no information on individuals but I want to end all the rumours of people looking at videos of Chris Froome and other riders and saying they’re using a motor.
“We need to do the tests also to protect the riders.”
He said that the UCI is looking at new technology to test for hidden motors, explaining that he was “not 100 per cent sure” that current methods, using tablet computers linked to an app, were foolproof.
That is likely to include checking bikes during races.
He said: “The idea is to test World Tour events, probably all of them.
“The bike will be checked, we will be able to look at every changed wheel, which we will tag, and we may do random testing during the stage.”
Turning to the issue of TUEs and the Jiffy Bag containing medicine destined for Bradley Wiggins delivered to a Team Sky doctor at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné, he said: “Everybody wants to know what was in the packet.
“And I saw what [Shane] Sutton said about Sky using TUEs and I wasn’t very comfortable with it.
“I want to have an independent medical review in time for 2019 and I’m specifically worried about the use of corticoids.
“I’ve already talked to [president] Craig Reedie at the World Anti-Doping Agency about how maybe in some disciplines you can add some other products — tramadol, too — to the banned list. But we want Wada and the IOC on board with this.”
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.