The UCI has announced, that following today’s under-23 women’s world championship cyclocross race in Zolder, Belgium, they’ve detained the bike of Belgian rider Femke van den Driessche, on suspicion of “motorized doping”.
In an interview with Belgian TV network, Sporza, the UCI off-road technical director, Peter Van den Abeele, manager, said the bike was caught thanks to new technology the UCI has been developing over the last few years.
“For the UCI, this is the first time we have established a technical fraud and for us that’s a downer. Most people are bewildered [by this].
“Was this a specific control? We’ve been doing tests for a while now at the world championships. In recent years, there’s been some hoopla, and we’ve adapted the technology. The people of the UCI’s technology commission were here in force with good equipment.”
Additional details from Sporza revealed:
“After one lap of the world championships, UCI took Femke’s bike in the pit area and tested it with some sort of tablet,” said Sporza journalist Maarten Vangramberen. “The bike was immediately sealed and taken. The UCI then called in the Belgian federation. When the saddle was removed, there were electrical cables in the seat tube. When they wanted to remove the bottom bracket, which is normally not difficult, they could not because the crank was stuck. Inside there was a motor.”
Van den Driessche rides for the Belgian team, Kleur Op Maat-Nodrugs, which is sponsored by Wilier-Triestina bikes.
“I feel really terrible,” Belgian national team coach Rudy De Bie told Sporza. “This is a disgrace. I never imagined something like this would happen to our team. Why would a rider do this? Especially at such a young age. And who is responsible for her? I’m embarrassed on her behalf.”
However, according to a report in the Belgian newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, Van den Driessche’s father was quoted as saying, the bike in question was not used in competition.
“It’s not Femke’s bike,” he reportedly said. “Someone from her team, who sometimes trains with her, brought the bike to the pit. But it was never the intention that she would ride it. … Femke has absolutely not used that bike in the race. We are strongly affected by what’s happened. Femke is totally upside-down.”
According to UCI rules, “motorized doping”, or technological fraud as its formally referred to, is punishable by disqualification, a suspension of at least six months, and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs. Moreover, a team found guilty of mechanical fraud also could face a suspension and a fine as large as one million francs.
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