Belgian cycling federation and UCI respond to the discovery of an electric motor hidden in under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche's bike

The Belgian national cycling coach, Rudy De Bie, has branded the first case of mechanical doping yesterday at the Cyclo-cross World Championships as a ‘disgrace’.

De Bie responded to the news on Saturday that the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) had caught Belgian Femke Van den Driessche with an electrical motor hidden in the carbon tubes of her Wilier bicycle in the under-23 women’s race in Zolder, Belgium.

“This is a disgrace,” De Bie said. “I never imagined something like this would go on in our team. Why would one do this, and especially at such a young age? I’m embarrassed.”

>>> UCI detains bike suspected of containing electric motor at cyclo-cross world championships

UCI president Brian Cookson said: “Technological fraud is unacceptable. We want the minority who may consider cheating to know that, increasingly there is no place to hide, and sooner or later they will pay for the damage they’re causing to our sport.”

“This is the first time the UCI has established a technical fraud case and for us, that’s a downer. Most people are bewildered by it,” UCI’s off-road manager Peter Van Den Abeele told Belgian’s Sporza television.

“Was this a specific control? We’ve carrying out tests for some time now at the world championships. In recent years, and we’ve adapted the technology. The UCI’s technology commission was at the Worlds with good equipment.”

UCI president Brian Cookson at a press conference at the cyclo-cross world championships 2016

UCI president Brian Cookson at a press conference at the cyclo-cross world championships 2016

The UCI reportedly used a tablet computer that reads radio frequencies to detect the hidden motor. After taking the bike away, UCI members removed the seat post to see wires. After some time trying to remove a stuck crank arm and bottom bracket, they discovered a motor.

The Switzerland-based UCI has het to issue an official response on the incident.

Nineteen-year-old Van den Driessche raced in the wind and rain battering Zolder’s track while experts wheeled away her spare bike from the pits for inspection.

>>> Motorised bikes may have been used in the WorldTour, admits UCI technical chief

Evie Richards became the first Brit to win a gold medal in the category and pre-race favourite Van den Driessche abandoned with one lap remaining due to a broken chain. It is unclear if she knew about the back and forth between the UCI and the Belgian team.

Femke Van Den Dreissche

Femke Van Den Dreissche

During the season, Van den Driessche races for Belgian trade team Kleur Op Maat-Nodrugs. The bike taken away was reportedly one from Italian manufacturer Wilier.

“It’s not Femke’s bike,” her father told Het Nieuwsblad newspaper. “Someone from her group, who sometimes trains with her, brought the bike to the race, but it was never the intention that she would ride it.”

“We want to distance ourselves from this,” Andrea Gastaldello of Wilier told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “This completely goes against the values of our company, and the basic principles of sport.”

If proven guilty, she could face a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Swiss francs (£13,700 to 137,000) and a minimum six-month suspension. The UCI added a technical fraud rule to its discipline and procedures regulations January 30, 2015.

  • No, it take 2hors to fit

  • Adam Beevers

    I suppose Contador was served someone else’s steak after he ordered pasta, but didn’t notice the difference?

  • This is a libelous and disgusting post. It should be removed forthwith. Beetle Juice could protest such an action but could he prove what he is saying is correct? I think not.

  • Mark Burrows

    well – there is this company for example, who are selling WIlier Cross bikes with the Vivax Assist Stealth kit, pre-fitted…

  • sc3pilot

    Was the bike used in a race? The UCI freely admits that they took the bike from the pits and have no proof it was actually used in a race. Of course, they will fine and punish her anyway, in spite of having any evidence that she used the bike in a race, or even intended to, or even know the bike was rigged, because the UCI is corrupt to the core and is not interested in creating an honest sport. They’re interested in ratings, drama, and scandal, because those are the things that sell bike races.

  • mattwardman

    Excuses not credible. Any sensible motor makes a carbon bike 10% heavier at least.

    She knew.

  • The Awakening

    beetle juice,

    RE: “she should go to team Sky, they know how to cheat and not get caught.”

    I have captured your comment and quoted it above. If you can substantiate your allegations, please go to the relevant authorities.

    IMHO, making unsubstantiated allegations against a team of riders is wrong.

  • eminusx

    back under your bridge, no food for you tonight

  • Dick_Turpin

    Without wanting to do the proverbial on your fried potatoes, that’s not a solution, for a number of reasons.

    The first is that no manufacturer will voluntarily add weight to their frames in a way that isn’t strictly necessary, so you’re not going to end up with huge thick carbon plugs or bridges, not going to happen.

    The second is that access to the seat tube and down tube is legitimately necessary nowadays for bikes with internal cable routing, especially of the electric sort, so plugging the tubes wouldn’t be practical anyway.

    The third is that anyone with the engineering expertise to install one of these BB-driving motors will have the machinery to bore through any such infill. This particular bike is a case in point: Whoever fitted it will likely have had to precisely bore through the seat tube all the way through the BB housing – and maybe also, with a non-round carbon tube, precision-fit the motor mount. It isn’t simply a case of ordering the kit from and having it ready to ride within half an hour of the box arriving.

    And the fourth is that there are other methods of surreptitiously motorising a bike that don’t involve a motor driving the bottom bracket, so your suggestion isn’t a complete solution anyway.

    The best response to this issue is more testing and examination, and draconian penalties. And not just for the rider either. These motors and their associated power and control systems require expert installation in the frame – especially if there is an intent to leave them externally undetectable. The sanctions need to extend to everyone who can be proved to have been in the loop.

  • beetle juice

    she should go to team Sky, they know how to cheat and not get caught.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    One solution would be for the framebuilders to make the seat tube in such a way that it is filled/blocked near the bottom bracket, so nobody can insert a motor.

  • ridein

    Using her father’s defense that it isn’t even her bike, then the UCI would still punish her.

  • Mister Epic

    If she is proven guilty, she should be ban for life really. The penalty seems very weak and perhaps this is the reason why everyone keeps on cheating.

  • Chris Williams

    She is just joining some of the other cheats – F.C.anyone

  • Cobden Bastiat

    do you even pun