UCI confirms motorised doping uncovered at cyclo-cross World Championships

Motor discovered in 19-year-old's Femke Van den Driessche's bike

UCI President Brian Cookson has confirmed that the governing body found evidence of a motor in a bike at the cyclo-cross World Championships on Saturday. Following the under 23 women’s race on Saturday, the UCI issued a press release stating that they were investigating a rider’s bike for possible “technological fraud.”

Reports in the Belgian press, including race broadcaster Sporza, revealed the rider as Femke Van den Driessche (Team Kleur op Maat) and that a motor had been found inside the frame of the bike.

“It is no secret that a motor was found,” Cookson said during a press conference held ahead of Sunday’s racing programme in Zolder. "We believe that it was indeed technological doping.”

Van den Driessche has since denied the accusations, you can read what she said here

Motorised doping has been a topic of discussion since 2010. The regulations on technological doping were brought in last January and could see a rider given a minimum suspension of six months and a fine of anything between 20,000 and 200,000 Swiss Francs. The UCI had introduced bike checks for the World Championships, the same as those that have been done in road racing over the past season.

"Throughout the 2015 season, we carried out unannounced bike checks at major road events and we will conduct similar controls throughout the 2016 season,” the UCI tweeted Cookson as saying during the press conference. “We have introduced in 2015 a set of Regulations that enables us to take action

“We’ve been trialling new methods of detection but you’ll understand why I don’t want to go into details of those methods."

Van den Driessche had been taking part in the inaugural under 23 women’s event, which was won by Britain’s Evie Richards. The Belgian and European under 23 champion had gone in as a pre-race favourite but did not feature at the front. She was eventually forced off her bike on the final lap when she was struck by mechanical problems and ended up walking with her bike.

Van den Driessche’s bike was taken for inspection along with several other bikes after the race. It quickly became apparent that something was wrong with her bike and news of the discovery quickly spread; however it is only this Sunday morning that they revealed their discovery. It gives Van den Driessche the dubious honour of being the first rider to be discovered to be using a motor. Incidentally, Van den Driessche’s brother Niels is currently suspended for doping.

Following the press conference, Cookson later tweeted his thoughts. “Technological fraud is unacceptable. We want the minority who may consider cheating to know that, increasingly,” he wrote. “There is no place to hide, and sooner or later they will pay for the damage they’re causing to our sport.”

He also issued a defiant message to anyone considering using a motor in the future. "To all the people who want to cheat, yesterday we sent a clear message: we will catch you and we will punish you because our technology to detect such fraud seems to work,” he said according to Sporza.

The bike checks will continue into Sunday’s races where the under 23 and elite men will be competing.

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