Two riders competing in an amateur Italian race refused to have their bikes checked for hidden motors and fled the scene before organisers could apprehend them.
Suspicion had been growing for a while amongst riders at the Criterium Portogruarese, taking place in the north-east Italian region of Veneto, and at the third round of the race the group of riders taking part asked organisers to check the bikes of two riders, believing they were using hidden motors.
One of the riders in question was identified as Alessandro Fantin of amateur outfit GS Vinal, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, who finished the race in eighth place, at which point the rest of the bunch had had enough, having suspected the two riders for some time.
“The riders were angry,” said head race organiser Lorenzo De Luca, “because Fantin and another had been being watched for a long time because they were accused of using rigged bikes.”
The race organisers looked to deal with the impassioned crowd by asking to check the two rider’s bikes. When they refused the police were called, at which point the two riders fled in their van.
“At the end of the race we stopped the two and asked to check their bikes. They refused. At that point we called the carabinieri [local Italian police] so that the checks could be carried out by competent authorities,” said De Luca.
“We couldn’t do anything else, so these two quickly jumped in their van and although the other cyclists had done everything to keep them, so as not to let them get away, they fled just before the arrival of the police.”
De Luca continued: “It’s a shame, but we, as organisers, couldn’t do more than that, even if you could see that there was a button on the handlebar. I’m sorry, but the only thing we could do is take them off the finishing line.”
At the Giro d’Italia 2019, the UCI carried out 1,300 ‘rigorous’ motor doping tests over the three weeks of racing, using magnetic scanning and x-ray technology.
All tests came back negative.