If recent drugs scandals weren’t enough, Mark Barfield, the UCI’s technical manager has admitted that the use of motorised bikes, otherwise known as mechanical doping, may have occurred in WorldTour races prior to the introduction of checks.
However, Barfield said that although mechanical doping may have been a problem in the past, he doesn’t believe that any top-level team is currently cheating in such a way.
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“I’ve done a lot of work in the past 10 month on this. I’ve spoken to a lot of engineers. I’ve tested 75 bikes this year for motors. I don’t believe any current WorldTour rider or team would be currently cheating on a product like this.”
In an interview with Australian website Cycling Tips, Barfield said that the reason that he doesn’t think mechanical doping is currently a problem is the introduction of improved testing by the UCI, which saw Chris Froome’s bike being tested for a motor at last year’s Tour de France.
And that testing is set to continue into next season, with the UCI introducing an improved method that will see commissaires able to check a greater number of bikes over a greater number of disciplines. But Barfield isn’t willing to give too much information as to how that testing will be done.
“All I can tell you is it’s based on magnetic resistance. There is a lot of work to be done. We’ve done our first trial and we have more trials in February. Its first outing, fingers crossed, will be the World Cyclocross Championships.
“The testing we will have will be so easy to use that every commissaire will be able to use it. So [testing] will be able to go on far beyond the WorldTour races.
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“We’ll probably do our first test in women’s racing next year because we need to extend. We now have the ability to test more bikes more often.”
Claims about mechanical doping first came to light in 2010, when Fabian Cancellara was accused of having ridden a motorised bike while taking victories in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Since then there have been persistent rumours and accusations of mechanical doping in the pro peloton, with Alberto Contador having to deny rumours of using a motorised bike to win this year’s Giro d’Italia, and Movistar also having to fend off a social media storm at the Vuelta a España after being accused of “hiding” a broken motorised bike.