60 Minutes Investigating Mechanical Doping in Professional Cycling
According to a recent article published on the website, Front Page Cycling, the American news program 60 Minutes is preparing a segment that investigates allegations of wide-spread mechanical doping – that’s possibly been going on for decades.
60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker travelled to Hungary in June of 2016 to meet with Istvan Varjas, the man who’s widely considered the engineer behind mechanical doping, for an in-depth interview and demonstration of technology. And, according to the report, Whitaker has also recently interviewed Armstrong’s former teammate Tyler Hamilton, and Greg LeMond, who has often spoken out about mechanical doping and who has been critical of the UCI’s strategy to find and deter mechanical doping.
During the interview, Varjas hinted that mechanical doping in the professional peloton has been going on as early as 1998.
In an October interview with Ger Gilroy on his Off The Ball radio show, Varjas said that he sold his invention to an unnamed party in 1998 and signed an exclusivity agreement for ten years.
Vargas spoke to French newspaper Le Monde earlier this month about 60 Minutes’ investigation, with the French newspaper suggesting the revelations could have as big an impact as the Festina doping incident, which exposed wide-spread doping in the peloton and almost brought the Tour de France to a halt in 1998.
Varjas claimed that he sold one of the first prototypes of a motor at the end of 1998, and as part of an agreement he could not talk about the technology or continue to develop it for 10 years. He did not say who may have benefitted from using a hidden motor during that 10-year period but revealed that he has been paid for information for the US television investigation.
“I wasn’t paid for what I did, I was paid not to do it for others,” Varjas said according to Le Monde. “To know who uses a motor, you have to look at the cadence. Small motors work better with a high pedal cadence and a small gear.”
Le Monde contacted Lance Armstrong as part of its story. He denied ever using mechanical doping during his career when speaking to Ger Gilroy of the Irish Off the Ball radio show show in October, and repeated his denial.
“I’ve never put a motor in my bike and I’ve never met Varjas,” Armstrong is reported as saying by Le Monde.
In addition, Varjas has suggested that the latest version of mechanical doping can give a cyclist a 15-second burst of power that allows them to gain an advantage over their rivals that no doping product can match.
“You can activate it remotely by Bluetooth, by remote control or by a watch,” Varjas says. “It can be controlled from the team car and the rider may not even be aware that he has a motor. It could just feel like they’re having a very good day. That model is designed for high speeds, for time trials.”
You can read the full story at the link below.
Front Page Cycling
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