Brian Cookson has stressed that the UCI are taking mechanical doping or, as he referred to it, technological fraud, incredibly seriously with over 200 tests carried out at the UCI Track World Championships this week. Those figures follow the news that over 130 tests were carried out during the opening weekend of the Belgian race season.
“We’ve been taking this very seriously since I’ve been president and there have been invasive tests at events,” Cookson told the media at the Worlds in London.
“We will have tested more than 200 bikes by the end of these Championships. We’ve developed new software that works with an iPad or iPhone. It clips on and tests for magnetic presence or anything suspicious in the frame or wheels that can lead to more invasive tests.”
The UCI caught 19-year-old Femke Van den Driessche with a motor in her bike at the Cyclo-cross World Championships earlier this year and Cookson expects a resolution to that case by the end of the month. The Belgian rider faces a ban and fine if she is sanctioned.
“I was pleased that we found someone as it put to bed the talk of this being a threat to our sport. I’ve seen the technology and I’ve ridden a bike with it on. It’s quite remarkable – not in competition I might add.”
“It’s out there and from what I hear it has been used in gran fondos and in training, apparently. The technology is there and we have to do something about it. We’ve shown that we have so technology that tests. There will always be those that cheat but we have a message that shows we’re on top of it. If someone is seriously considering cheating in this way, we will find you.
“I find it bizarre that someone would want to cheat in that way, which is fundamental to the nature of our sport,” he added.
“My experience is that athletes will always push the rules right to the limit and it’s therefore up to the governing bodies to make sure they don’t go beyond those limits. This a new, insidious and damaging threat to our sport that we have to take seriously.”
Cookson added that the UCI’s technology meant that they could also test for the presence of magnets in wheels. Since 2012 there have been rumours and suspicions that riders could be using these in order to gain an unfair advantage.
“I’ve read some strange stories about magnets in back wheels as I’m sure that you have and our guys do check for anything that could generate power.”