June 28th, 2020

"Mechanical Doping" Investigation Closed

A probe into the use of hidden motors at top level cycling races, conducted by the French police, dropped for lack of evidence.

The investigation, initiated by the French Financial Prosecutor's Office following the detection of an electrical motor in a race bike nearly four years ago, has closed as there were no cases ever since. According to L'Equipe, the prestigious French daily newspaper devoted to sports, the investigators did not question the top management of the International Cycling Union (UCI) but took the statement of Hungarian Istvan Varjas, the self-professed inventor of the tiny hidden motors. However, it is public that all the bicycles that UCI had been scanning against technological frauds by tablets and thermal cameras since 2010 turned out to be “clean” except the single case in 2016.

The allegations about the mechanical doping were first raised in 2010 when the Swiss star Fabian Cancellara was accused of using a motor to win the Paris-Roubaix that year. UCI shortly began pre-race and post-race controls at the global championships, and a spare bike of Belgium's U23 rider Femke Van den Driessche was found to have a motor at the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Heusden-Zolder in 2016. Although denying any knowledge of the assist motor and a friend of her testified that the bike belonged to him, Van den Driessche was banned from competitions for six years by the UCI.