The Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme represents professional cycling in France and includes representatives from teams, riders and race organisers. In recent weeks the European Cycling Union, headed by UCI Vice-President David Lappartient, the CPA riders Association and even Tour de France organiser ASO have called on the UCI to take further action to combat mechanical doping.
Suspicions of mechanical doping have been in the news since 2010 but the discovery of a hidden motor in a bike apparently prepared for Belgian Under 23 rider Femke Van den Driessche at the recent World Cyclo-Cross championships has confirmed that the technology and desire to cheat are a real threat to the credibillty of professional cycling. Van den Driessche’s case is set to be heard by the UCI’s Disciplinary Commission and she could be banned and fined if found guilty.
The UCI has since stepped up its bike checks, testing 90 race, and spare bikes from six different teams at the La Méditerranéenne race in the south of France. The UCI inspectors used a blue tablet sensor and checked the frame for hidden motors and the wheels for possible electromagnetic systems that help rotate the wheels. However, there was no sign of bike checks at the Dubai Tour or the Tour of Qatar.
In a letter to UCI president Brian Cookson, Madiot, called on the UCI to “implement all necessary means to immediately stop all attempted fraud.”
“Since the World Championships Cyclo Cross at the end of January 2016, we’ve passed from the stage of suspicion to reality, indeed a bike has become a "motor bike". Our DNA has been affected, it affects the mystique of the riders and our history. Sadly for the press, the bike is now classified in the category of motorsport.” Madiot wrote.
“The National League of Cycling, with its riders, organizers and sports groups, solemnly asks you to implement all necessary means to immediately stop any attempted fraud. We call for greater transparency from our international federation on the actions that will be undertaken. We demand, in the shortest possible time, the creation of systematic controls and strengthened sanctions, life suspension for all those involved in these scams. No one imagines that a rider can act alone.”
“The future of our sport depends on it. It is neither acceptable nor tolerable that suspicion can remain. The Ligue reserves the right to take any legal action to preserve the integrity of our sport.”
Cookson has tried to defend the UCI’s strategy against mechanical doping since confirming the case at the Cyclo-cross World Championships. “Obviously I don’t want to say anything that might prejudice the case which is in fact sub-judice. But this is a very serious development and we are handling it with the utmost care,” Cookson told Cyclingnews and a small group of reporters at the Tour of Qatar.
Cookson accepted that the UCI was prepared to expand its current testing programme and floated the possibility of introducing pre-race tests for all bikes at road races, rather than the current system, which sees occasional testing of selected bikes.
“If we need to go to a situation where every bike has to be pre-examined before a race, including the bikes on the team cars, then maybe this is something that we have to look at. We have much better technology now to check whether there are any suspicious signs and then we can do the more invasive tests to prove it one way or another,” Cookson said.