UCI President David Lappartient has pledged to restore cycling's credibility in relation to the issue of mechanical doping. Only one elite rider has been caught using a motor since test were first introduced in 2016 but question marks remain over the robustness of the current testing protocol and the UCI's previous determination to handle the matter.
Lappartient, who was elected to the presidency in September, made the elimination of mechanical doping one of the cornerstones of his manifesto. He has promised to outline his plans for the future by the end of the year before rolling out a new programme to detect motors from the start of 2018.
"I want to say that I hope that [ed. mechanical doping] is not something that we have today in the professional peloton, but I need to be sure. I really want to be sure," Lappartient told Cyclingnews.
"We need to avoid any suspicion that we have it in our sport. It's really bad for our image, and people are asking 'are they using this technology or not?' I want us to be sure, and I want people to trust the credibility of the UCI and I want people to know that we're doing our best and checking in the most professional way. I want people to trust in the results of racing. This is what we have to deliver."
Lappartient was speaking at the presentation of the 2018 Tour de France route in Paris on Tuesday. It was one of his first public appearances since beating Brian Cookson in the UCI election by a vote of 37-8.
Less than a month after the election, a French amateur rider was caught using a motor in his bike at a local race. The episode highlighted that mechanical doping had spread to all levels of racing. Lappartient has suggested that testing at events and races will become more robust in 2018, with heat guns working alongside the criticised UCI tablets.
"The scale of this is really big. The UCI concentrates on the top level but we have to understand that we can have the same problem at all levels, even at mass participation events. It's a disaster to see a guy at this low level using this kind of technology just to get his name in the newspaper.
"I said during my campaign that it was a major point for the UCI and today Mr Prudhomme, organiser of the Tour de France, asked the UCI to work on this, and the credibility as we strive against technological fraud. As I said, we'll be ready for the next season and during the winter we'll make some announcement on this, probably at the beginning of December."
Since winning the presidential election Lappartient has spent the majority of his time at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. The Frenchman has used that time to organise his new regime but has not made any large scale changes as he continues to find his feet.
"It's gone quite well but I know that I need to be involved in everything," he said.
"Being the president is not the same as being the vice-president. I spent the first four weeks at the headquarters of the UCI because the idea was that I wouldn't travel that much at the start. I wanted to be involved in the everyday business and really understand the way it works.
"I made some changes but we've a good staff at the UCI. The plan isn't to remove and change completely. Before changing things it's important to understand how things work from the inside and then use my own judgement. A lot of people have come to me and said, 'you've got to change this, you've got to change that,' but sorry, I want to have my own points of view and then make the right decisions."
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