Great Britain team manager Chris Young has hit out at cheating in cyclo-cross after Belgian rider Femke Van den Dreissche’s bike was found to contain an electric motor at the World Championships in Zolder, Belgium.
Young said that every member of the GB team had been left shocked by the revelations from Saturday, with the news coming during the Under-23 Women’s race which was won by GB’s Evie Richards.
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“Every rider just can’t believe what has happened,” he said. “It’s as bad as drug doping if not worse.
“It’s not just a girl who has allowed it to happen – someone has put the motor in there, and it makes you wonder who else has them.”
Van Den Driessche, 19, is a household name in the sport and regularly finishes in the top ten in the biggest elite women’s races in the world, recently winning the European Under-23 Championship and placing second at the Kopppenberg Cross.
After one lap of Saturday’s Under-23 race, UCI officials tested her bike in the pit area with an tablet before then taking the bike away.
It was reported that when the saddle was removed, electrical cables were found in the seat tube. When they tried to remove the bottom bracket it was stuck, but eventually a motor was found inside.
On her spare bike, Van Den Driessche was later seen walking down the course with a snapped chain and later retired from the race.
The rider faces at least a six-month ban and fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 Swiss francs.
“In the old days people used to take drugs and try and get away with it, but now the tests are stringent which has put an end to that,” added Young. “But now you have mechanical doping and it just seems a bit ridiculous they can do it.
“This sport shouldn’t be about cheating.”
And Young questioned how widespread the practice might become, adding: “In local races people could have them, and it will raise suspicion sometimes when people win races, and you think ‘how are they so good?’
The full statement from the UCI about the findings from Saturday reads: “The International Cycling Union confirms that pursuant to the UCI’s Regulations on technological fraud a bike has been detained for further investigation following checks at the Women’s Under 23 race of the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. This does not concern any of the riders on the podium. Further details will be shared in due course.”