The UCI has introduced new sanctions for motorised doping that include a minimum suspension of six months for riders and teams found guilty of an offence, as well as fines of up to 1 million Swiss Francs.
A new clause covering "technological fraud" was added to the UCI’s regulations on January 30, and it provides for heavy penalties for riders and teams found to have used bikes with "electric or other assistance."
Riders found guilty of technological fraud will be disqualified from the race in question, be suspended for a minimum of six months and face a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 Swiss Francs.
Unlike in the case of doping offences, there is also provision for the rider’s team to incur heavy sanctions. According to article 12.1.013, they also face disqualification, a suspension of at least six months and a fine of between 100,000 and 1 million Swiss Francs.
When UCI inspectors conducted checks on 36 bikes at the end of Milan-San Remo in March, they did not limit their testing to bikes that had been used in the race, but also seized some bikes from team trucks and brought them to be scanned.
This was in keeping with the new UCI regulation, which states that: "Any presence of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, constitutes a technological fraud by the team and the rider."
"The UCI takes the issue of technological doping, such as the ability to use hidden motors, very seriously," UCI president Brian Cookson told Spanish newspaper AS. "The Cycling Independent Reform Commission report only confirmed the need to act decisively."
An article in Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday claimed that no fewer than 1,200 such electronic motors have been sold in Italy in recent years.
Gazzetta adds that the technology continues to develop and that since 2011, a system that sees motors linked to heart-rate monitors has been in vogue, with the motor kicking in once the riders goes above a certain heart-rate. The Italian newspaper also writes of another, Bluetooth system, that can be operated remotely.