Chris Froome has called on the UCI to step up their efforts in the fight against mechanical doping after a motor was found in a race bike for the first time at last weekend's Cyclo-cross World Championships.
The UCI is investigating what it terms a case of 'technological fraud' on the part of 19-year-old Belgian Femke Van den Driessche, who has protested her innocence.
Tour de France champion Froome, speaking with media ahead of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia, revealed that bikes of his have been dismantled and examined as many as a dozen times, and he called on cycling's authorities to increase the number of controls across the sport from top to bottom.
"For the last few years now there have been rumours about motors being concealed within the bikes. It's a concern that I've had, something that I've brought up with the UCI Independent Commission when I sat down with them and said ‘listen, from my point of view there are these rumours, it would be my advice that the UCI implements controls and measures to start checking bikes more regularly'," he said.
"Just speaking from personal experience, over the last couple of seasons my bike has been dismantled and checked at least a dozen times. I think they are taking the threat seriously and hopefully this will mean that they only increase the number of checks they do on the WorldTour level."
- UCI confirms motorised doping uncovered at cyclo-cross World Championships
- Femke Van den Driessche denies using motor at cyclo-cross World Championships
- What is mechanical doping?
- Electromagnetic wheels are the new frontier of mechanical doping, claims Gazzetta dello Sport
Motorised doping has been a topic of discussion since 2010 and new regulations were brought in last January that could see a rider given a minimum suspension of six months and a fine of anything between 20,000 and 200,000 Swiss Francs. Many had dismissed the notion as fantasy but Saturday's discovery would seem to indicate that it is indeed a very real threat, and will only heighten fears that such duplicity could be occurring at the highest echelons of the sport.
"At the moment we’ve only got rumours to go on," said Froome. "All I can do is hope that the authorities take this matter really seriously and look at implementing more and more controls, random controls throughout cycling, at WorldTour level, mountainbike, ‘cross as we’ve seen. That’s the only way forward – the same way the authorities have approached doping.
Froome himself has been the subject of unfounded accusations of motorised doping, mostly tied up with the general speculation that came his way, particularly on social media, during his two Tour de France victories, in 2013, and 2015. Froome insists that social channels are the primary incubators of the 'rumours' he refers to, insisting that suspicions of motorised doping do not spread through the peloton.
"Most of the rumours these days are on social media and Twitter," he said. "We definitely don’t ride around among us and say ‘ah I think he’s got a motor in his bike today’. It’s not like that; all this stuff seems to be driven by social media."