UCI to investigate Gaimon's Cancellara mechanical doping accusations

UCI president David Lappartient has said that the governing body will investigate the former professional Phil Gaimon’s claim that Fabian Cancellara used a hidden motor during his career.

Gaimon made the claim in his recently-published book Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While), in which he revisited allegations regarding Cancellara that first surfaced following his victories at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in 2010. Cancellara has always denied using a hidden motor.

"When you watch the footage, his accelerations don't look natural at all, like he's having trouble staying on the top of the pedals. That fucker probably did have a motor," Gaimon wrote. He stood by the accusation when contacted for comment on Wednesday.

Speaking to Cyclingnews on Thursday morning, Lappartient said that the UCI would seek more information on the allegation levelled by Gaimon against Cancellara.

"What I would say regarding the case you are speaking about is that I will try to have more information and we will investigate. We will investigate because we need to know exactly what is behind this. Of course, I heard all the rumours, like everybody, and I just want to know exactly. So we will investigate, that is our job," Lappartient said.

"At this level, I cannot say more than this, but I hope that this never happened in professional cycling. If this was the case, it would be a disaster for the image of cycling and that's why we have to fight. I want the people and the fans on the road to be able to trust the result, trust the UCI and trust the controls from our institutions."

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Despite re-airing the Cancellara allegations in his book, however, Gaimon insisted to Cyclingnews on Wednesday that mechanical doping was no longer an issue in professional cycling and even poured scorn on the emphasis placed by the newly-elected Lappartient on improving testing for technological fraud.

"I do think it happened that year a couple times, but as soon as somebody noticed and it became a story nobody did it again. I think it's an absolute clickbait, red herring – even up to the new UCI president who is acting like it's a big issue that he is going to get to the bottom of. Anyone on the inside knows it's a joke," Gaimon said.

Two amateur riders have been caught using hidden motors in races in 2017, however, while in 2016, Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche was banned for six years after a motor was discovered in one of her bikes at the World Championships. Reports by outlets including France Télévisions and Il Corriere della Sera have raised concerns that motors have been used in the professional peloton in recent years. In such a context, Lappartient feels that the UCI is compelled to treat the issue of technological fraud with the utmost seriousness.

"I saw some statements from some team managers and riders who said, 'Oh, it's not a problem today in cycling.' Well, I just want to be sure that this is not a problem," Lappartient said. "And they have also to consider that the fans, all of them, are speaking about this. You can see a lot of videos. The team managers and riders are just speaking all together, and even if they don't feel that it is a problem, they have to know what the image of our sport is and the feeling of the fans is.

"I cannot go in a meeting without people asking me about this, so that means it's a subject. It's a subject for those outside the sport, even if it's not a subject for some of them on the inside, so I want everybody to be sure that we will deliver the best tests so that they can trust the results of the races."

The UCI's measures against mechanical doping have come under scrutiny in recent months, with a Stade 2 report demonstrating the apparent ineffectiveness of the tablet scanners that the governing body currently uses to test for motors. Lappartient has pledged to roll out new and more stringent tests for mechanical doping before the start of the 2018 season, with more details due to be unveiled at the turn of the year.

"I was a little bit concerned that the system of the UCI was useful, but not enough," Lappartient said. "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."

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