After a century of pumping themselves full of all sorts of performance-enhancing (and other!) drugs, it appears that at least one pro cyclist has found an easier way to cheat: hiding a motor inside the bicycle frame. The Union Cycliste International (UCI), cycling's governing body, confirmed reports yesterday that it found a motorised bicycle being used by one of the competitors in the cyclocross World Championships on Saturday. The rider was Femke Van den Driessche, a 19-year-old Belgian cyclocross star.
In a press conference today, UCI President Brian Cookson only confirmed the existence of a motor: "It is no secret that a motor was found...we believe that it was indeed technological doping."
According to a newspaper report, the UCI used some kind of radio-frequency-detecting tablet to examine the bike, before removing the bottom bracket, and finding a motor hidden inside.
It's a big day for cycling: the sport has famously had its problems with cheating, and 'technological doping' has been an urban legend for years. With electric bike tech advancing fast, and the margins in road racing so tight, people have been accused for years, although nothing's ever come close to being proven.
For her part, Van den Driessche says the bike belonged to a friend, and mistakenly found its way into her race-day bike lineup. The UCI will be investigating thoroughly, but whether it turns out to be an innocent mistake or not, it's clear that mechanical doping is a real thing now.