The British Cycling eRacing national champion has been fined, banned and stripped of his title because the bike he rode in the final had only been earned through simulated efforts. Cameron Jeffers accepts that using software to get access to the bike was “unethical and unsporting” but says his physical performance in the final was still superior to those he beat.
British Cycling yesterday announced that a charge of unsporting conduct had been upheld against Jeffers following his victory in the inaugural eRacing national championships in March.
A statement said that the charge, “related to manipulation of pre-race data to gain an unfair advantage via in-game equipment.”
Jeffers – who rides on the road for the Saint Piran team in Cornwall – was stripped of his title, fined £250 and handed a six-month suspension from all racing.
The eRacing national championship was handed to James Phillips, who came second on the day.
In a video on YouTube, Jeffers explains that the unsporting conduct charge related to the bike he rode in the qualifiers and finals: a Zwift Concept Z1 bike – widely known as a “Tron” bike.
As well as offering a distinctive neon look, the Tron bike also offers in-game advantages. According to a speed test run by Zwift Insider, it beat the stock Zwift setup by 68 seconds on a full Watopia Figure 8 lap.
Towards the end of his video, Jeffers is keen to talk up the research and training he put in ahead of the national championships. As well as researching power-ups and course profiles, he says his physical performance in the races exceeded those of his rivals.
In December last year, Jeffers had just got into Zwift racing and decided he wanted to give the recently announced national championships a go.
“I was starting to do more and more of the local community races within Zwift and someone messaged me; someone said to me: ‘Do you want the Tron bike in Zwift?’”
At the time, Jeffers hadn’t done much racing on Zwift and had “a pretty basic bike,” so he agreed.
To unlock the Tron bike, you have to climb 50,000m. Jeffers allowed the third party to log into his account and they used computer software to simulate the necessary efforts.
From then on, Jeffers used the Tron bike in training as well as in the qualifiers and National Championships.
He points out that British Cycling’s technical regulations for eRacing were written on March 8, 2019 – several months after he had gained access to the bike.
Jeffers actually only finished 12th in his national championships qualifier with only the top 10 going through to the finals.
Seemingly hinting at wider eRacing teething problems, he said that two of the top ten, “for some reason, they got taken out of that qualifying race – I don’t exactly know the reason why.”
Having qualified, Jeffers then faced a series of checks from Zwift and British Cycling. He said they requested power data and proof of his weight. He added that eRacing suffers “a host of problems,” day-to-day, including uncalibrated turbo trainers and inaccurate weight data.
He was given the green light to compete only for British Cycling to uncover the simulated efforts to acquire the Tron bike following an anonymous email complaint in April.
In a statement, Jeffers said: “I accept this practice was unethical and unsporting and I have cooperated fully with [British Cycling] on their investigation. I fully believe in esports and it’s part of cycling’s future. I will continue to support it and use what I have learnt from my mistakes to help shape it as it grows.”
Last month the UCI announced that it is to host the Cycling eSports World Championships in 2020.
UCI president David Lappartient said there was “a particularly exciting opportunity” to attract a younger audience to cycling through eSports.