The UCI has announced that former AG2R-La Mondiale rider Jean-Christophe Peraud has been appointed as the new UCI Manager of Equipment and so will lead the fight against the use of mechanical doping in the peloton.
The UCI confirmed to Cyclingnews that Mark Barfield, who led controls against mechanical doping under previous UCI president Brian Cookson, has left the international governing body.
The UCI's measures have come under intense scrutiny since they introduced a simple tablet device as a way to check bikes for hidden motors. A Stade 2 report demonstrated the apparent ineffectiveness of the tablet, with reports that more sophisticated systems of magnetic wheels could be in use in the peloton. The UCI has never discovered a case of mechanical doping in the professional road peloton with the tablet device. Belgium's Femke Van den Driessche is the only elite rider caught with a hidden motor after bike was checked during the 2016 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships.
Recently-elected UCI president David Lappartient has pledged to roll out new and more stringent tests for the 2018 season, with more details due to be unveiled in the new year. On Thursday, Lappartient told Cyclingnews that the UCI will investigate the recent allegation levelled by former US professional Phil Gaimon against Fabian Cancellara.
"I will always voice my concerns about this subject. I want to be sure that nobody is cheating with motors, and that is the job of the UCI, to ensure that this will not be the case. At the end of the year or the beginning of January we will make an announcement about what we will do to enforce the controls from the UCI,” Lappartient told Cyclingnews.
The appointment of Frenchman Peraud appears to be the first step in the UCI's renewed fight against mechanical doping.
From AG2R to the UCI
Peraud won a silver medal in cross-country mountain biking at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then was second in the 2014 Tour de France during his road career. He is a qualified process engineer and has been working in the thermal hydraulics industry since retiring in 2016.
The UCI said his responsibilities would include 'the management of approval procedures for equipment and clothing used in competition, the management of projects concerning the use of new technologies in cycling events, and the fight against technological fraud.'
“Thanks to his solid academic background, his professional career and his experience as a top athlete, he is the ideal person to work, in close collaboration with the UCI Ad hoc Commission, on the modernisation of the current regulations and procedures covering equipment, in particular those concerning the fight against technological fraud,” Lappartient said in a statement confirming Peraud’s appointment.
“This problematic issue is one of my highest priorities. The credibility of sports results hangs on it. A detailed plan of action in this specific area will be revealed next January.”
Peraud said he believes the UCI’s fight against mechanical doping can be improved.
“I wanted to continue working for the sport I love. The challenge I have been offered today fulfils my wish perfectly,” Peraud said.
“I will invest all my energy, and all my knowledge of and expertise in both engineering and the sport of cycling into this role. The UCI already has an effective policy concerning equipment and the fight against technological fraud, but I am convinced that this can still be improved. That is what I will now be working on.”