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The UCI Defends Itself on the Issue of Testing for “Technological Fraud”

Cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), is defending its policies regarding the testing of hidden motors in bikes (i.e. mechanical doping/technological fraud), after France TV’s Stade 2 program aired a report over the weekend, which brought into question the effectiveness of the UCI’s detection methods, saying they can generate false positives and miss detection all together.  

The UCI declined to be interviewed by Stade 2, but issued a response on Monday insisting that their current system is reliable.

“When UCI President Brian Cookson was elected in September 2013, there were no rules targeting technological fraud, no proper sanctions, no significant resources dedicated to the area, and no system of control and inspection,” the UCI statement began.

“These have been put in place in the past four years, in particular: Rules and sanctions were introduced and can be found in article 1.3.003 and 1.3.010 of the UCI Regulations.

“Significant staffing resource and systematic controls and checks have been introduced (over 40,000 in the past two years). These include, for example, over 4,000 controls undertaken during the 2017 Tour de France and 1,000 at the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships end of August.”

The UCI said that it had conducted this work “with transparency and in partnership with its stakeholders.”

It added that in May of last year 20 representatives from global media were at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, to attend a presentation and discussion of its work to fight such cheating.

During the program, the disputed tests were shown to miss the presence of the hidden motors on serval occasions, particularly if the device was located in the wheel of the bike.  

“You must be able to differentiate between the numerous false alarms and the real ones,” stated the programme. “From their test results, only one out of three alarms is a real one. So two-thirds of the alarms are false readings, just as our own test had shown.

“But especially, the UCI had asked this laboratory to test only one type of motor, the classic and old method of the motor hidden in a seat post. Nothing on motors inside sprockets nor on magnetic wheels like Stefano Varjas’ one. Unlike us, the UCI did not test its tablet against the latest technologies available to cheaters.”

The UCI responded with a public statement on Monday saying,

“Like any testing equipment, our scanners must be used correctly to be effective. We provide extensive training to our operators on how to use the equipment and how to interpret the results,” the UCI said. “It is clear that the people using our device in Sunday’s Stade 2 report had had no training. We have, immediately following the report, offered to meet with them to demonstrate how to use our scanners effectively.

“Our training always emphasises that the scanner is for initial controls and that bikes must be dismantled should any suspicion of the presence of a motor or any other hidden device be indicated.”

UCI has come under scrutiny, for refusing to allow law enforcement the opportunity to use other forms of detection, such as taking off wheels and other components of the bike and simply weighing them.  

The UCI issued the following statement:  

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) wishes to make the following statement concerning its work on technological fraud following media reports published on Sunday.

When UCI President Brian Cookson was elected in September 2013, there were no rules targeting technological fraud, no proper sanctions, no significant resources dedicated to the area, and no system of control and inspection.

These have been put in place in the past four years, in particular:
• Rules and sanctions were introduced and can be found in article 1.3.003 and 1.3.010 of the UCI Regulations;
• Significant staffing resource and systematic controls and checks have been introduced (over 40,000 in the past two years). These include, for example, over 4,000 controls undertaken during the 2017 Tour de France and 1,000 at the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships end of August.

Throughout, the UCI has conducted this work with transparency and in partnership with its stakeholders. For example, in May 2016, 20 leading media from around the world were at the UCI headquarters for a thorough presentation and discussion of its work in this area.

The main testing method currently used by the UCI, magnetic resistance scanning, has proved to be highly effective both in tests and in actual use. It has also been independently verified by Microbac, a US-based industrial testing laboratory, who found that “the UCI Scanner detected the hidden motor in 100% of the scans executed by trained staff”. The full test report is available on our website.

The system is comprised of three main parts, all of which are essential – as is correct utilisation:
• Tablet;
• Adapter to create a fixed magnetic field;
• Calibrated software.

Like any testing equipment, our scanners must be used correctly to be effective. We provide extensive training to our operators on how to use the equipment and how to interpret the results. It is clear that the people using our device in Sunday’s Stade 2 report had had no training. We have, immediately following the report, offered to meet with them to demonstrate how to use our scanners effectively.

Our training always emphasises that the scanner is for initial controls and that bikes must be dismantled should any suspicion of the presence of a motor or any other hidden device be indicated.

The UCI has of course analysed many alternative forms of detection, and indeed continues to make use of alternative methods in combination with magnetic resistance scanners to ensure a varied testing protocol. However, all alternative forms are not suitable to be the main or exclusive form of detection.

Thermal imaging has been used on a number of occasions and can be useful, but is limited as it would only detect a motor when in use, or shortly after use when a motor is warm. ‎We also occasionally use X-ray, but this is relatively slow, requires a great deal of space to ensure public safety, and is subject to widely varying legislation from country to country.

We continue to work with our partners to ensure we keep up to date with developments in this area and are grateful to the many people and organisations who have helped us develop a highly effective suite of controls and the associated rules and sanctions for potential infringements. We remain committed to this work and welcome all input and suggestions as to how this can be developed further. All stakeholders in cycling have a common interest to demonstrate that cheating has no place in our sport.‎

If anyone believes they have information that we should be aware of, we ask them to please contact us at materiel@uci.ch.

 

 

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