Italian judge Raffaele Guariniello has opened a formal investigation into the possibility of motorised bikes being used in professional races in Italy after an appeal by Amore e Vita team owner Ivano Fanini.
According to reports in Italian media, Guariniello, who often investigates popular causes and supports class action legal battles, has formally opened a sporting fraud investigation. In the past Guariniello has investigated accusations of doping at the Juventus soccer club and concerning Marco Pantani.
"We can't just ignore what Davide Cassani said on television during the Giro d'Italia", Fanini said in a statement after his call for an investigation moved Gauriniello to act.
"When he was asked if a rider had used the bike, Cassani said: 'The person who gave it to us said yes.' Now the names have to come out. The trick could have been used at the Giro d'Italia because despite the assurances of the organisers, no targeted checks were done. There's a risk that the Tour de France starts with this cheating still being used."
"It's fundamental that both the UCI and the police in Turin open an investigation so that we can see what comes out. I'd bet that if the motorised bikes are eliminated before the Tour de France, someone would suddenly seem out of form or could even decide not to ride."
Cassani confirms his accusations
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Davide Cassani said he would be happy to help any investigation just as he had helped the UCI. However he was angry that UCI President Pat McQuaid had dismissed his report where he showed how a motorized bike works.
Reports of the possibility of motorised bikes being used in the peloton first emerged on May 18 in three Italian newspapers and then Cassani showed a bike on Italian television a few days later.
He did not accuse any specific rider of using the battery-powered engine to boost their performance, but at the end of the Giro d'Italia a video posted on Youtube.com combined Cassani's report with footage of Fabian Cancellara winning this year's Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. That video has been seen over two million times and sparked stories in the mainstream media around the world.
Cassani reiterated all the claims he made on television to Cyclingnews. He confirmed that the power produced by the motor could make a huge difference in a race and that he had been told a bike fitted with a motor has been used in races.
"I did the report for the love of the sport because I felt it was the right thing to do to show the bike. I didn’t hide anything and I certainly didn't accuse Cancellara of using it," Cassani told Cyclingnews.
"I'm really disappointed about what McQuaid said because I met with Philippe Chevalier of the UCI and told him everything I know. I was happy to help but I stand by what I said on television. I never said the battery could be hidden inside the tube. On the bike I showed, it was in the bottle, but it was still hidden."
"It's up to the UCI to get to the bottom of this. I understand they knew a year ago about it but only reacted when the story came out."