UCI checks all Tirreno-Adriatico time trial bikes for mechanical doping

The UCI checked the bikes of all 184 starters in Tirreno-Adriatico for motors, either in the frame or wheels, and made no discoveries of any 'mechanical doping' being employed for the team time trial in Lido di Camaiore.

The sport's governing body began checking bikes in 2010 after a report surfaced in the Italian media that alleged professional riders were using tiny hidden motors in the bottom bracket to help power the pedals. The first checks took place at the 2010 Tour de France, but no discoveries were announced. The Italians have since claimed that teams are using maglev technology in wheels to boost speed.

Since a motor was detected in the bike of an U23 rider at the UCI cyclo-cross World Championships in January, the UCI has stepped up its efforts and says that over 1,000 checks have been performed so far this year, between Paris-Nice, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Track Worlds and other races.

While checks in years past entailed officials dismantling the bike to check inside, UCI president Brian Cookson confirmed last week that the commissaires were now using a tablet-based application to check for mechanical doping.

"We've developed new software that works with an iPad or iPhone," Cookson said. "It clips on and tests for magnetic presence or anything suspicious in the frame or wheels that can lead to more invasive tests."

The UCI used that technology to find the motor hidden in the bike of Femke Van Den Driessche, the Belgian U23 cyclo-cross rider, who denied the bike was hers. She claimed that the bike, belonging to a friend, was mistakenly taken to the pits. The matter is awaiting a verdict by the UCI Disciplinary Commission.

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