The UCI has reportedly opened an investigation into Remco Evenepoel after a video emerged of Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Davide Bramati removing an object from the Belgian rider's jersey pocket after his season-ending crash at Il Lombardia.
The video, which was posted to Twitter earlier this week, showed Bramati putting a small white object in his pocket as Evenepoel lay on his side awaiting medical attention.
On Friday, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the UCI had requested the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) to investigate the incident.
"We've asked CADF to further investigate the television images and question witnesses about the object that came out of Evenepoel's pocket," UCI president David Lappartient said on Friday."
Lappartient also questioned a statement Bramati gave shortly after the crash, where the Italian mentioned knowing beforehand that Evenepoel had crashed as his "data had stopped".
"The directeur sportif said he thought Evenepoel had fallen as no more data was being sent," said Lappartient. "What data are we talking about then? After all, it is forbidden to send certain data. So, we are also looking at that point. If it is only about geographical position then it's something else, but sharing other data is not allowed."
UCI regulations allow the use of onboard technology – including telemetry, transponder units, GPS units and video-cameras – that has the ability to transmit data, information or images (reg 1.3.024), though it is unclear what data Lappartient was referring to.
Evenepoel fractured his pelvis in the crash, which came on the descent off the Sormano late in the race. He remains in hospital in Belgium. Last week, he took his first steps after the crash, assisted by crutches and hospital staff.
On Wednesday, La Gazzetta dello Sport questioned Bramati about the footage, with the Italian replying that he removed food and a radio from Evenepoel's pockets as the rider would have to lay down on a stretcher.
"[It was] nothing ilicit," Bramati said. "I don't understand how one could even think that. I remember very well that they were frantic moments and that there was a need to remove the things that were on Remco's back because shortly afterwards he would have to lie on a stretcher.
"So, I took away his radio, gel, bar, the 'jar' of sugars, and in order not to leave them on the ground I put them in my pocket. There is another photo in which you can see his helmet being taken off. That's it."
When contacted by Cyclingnews on Friday night, Deceuninck-QuickStep said they would not yet comment on the matter. On Saturday, the UCI stated: "Based on the images circulating on the internet, CADF heard from representatives of the team. The investigation is underway and the UCI will not comment further at this stage."
Deceuninck-QuickStep team boss Patrick Lefevere did, however, take to Twitter to condemn the investigation. The veteran team boss said: "This is proof that CADF is not [neutral] because they said there are operating independent without UCI. This is clearly not true."
This the proof that CADF is not neural because they said there are operating independent without @Uci. This is clearly not trueAugust 28, 2020
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