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Mechanical Doping: Pro Cycling's Newest Scandal

Mechanical Doping: Pro Cycling's Newest Scandal

Posted by Kitty on

Scandals, rumors, pro-athletes, performance enhancing drugs- these are not new to the world of professional sports. As technology advances, new methods of cheating emerge as well. Even those not in tune with the world of cycling know of the allegations of doping and a certain pro-cyclist who had a strong career record of wins. It seems that in this new age of driverless cars, touchscreen camera phones, and bionic limbs, advanced technology is being used in pro-sports as a cheating medium. Introducing mechanical doping: pro cycling's newest scandal.

By Dimitri Maladry - wikiportret.nl, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://goo.gl/Ifnr2v By Dimitri Maladry - wikiportret.nl, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://goo.gl/Ifnr2v

What is Mechanical Doping?

UCI screenshot defining Technological Fraud

Mechanical Doping, more officially known as "Technological Fraud" is using a bicycle that is not in compliance with the rules set out by the UCI. Most common is installing a motor down the seatpost to the hub. The shifters hide a trigger that activates a crank that accelerates the rear wheel.

Another method of mechanical doping is the use of electromagnetic wheels. Not as powerful as the motor, and 10x more expensive, the appeal here is that magnets would be much more discrete. And discrete is definitely the more attractive because now the name of the game is not to get caught, right?

Who's guilty?

Earlier this year, a 19 year old female Belgian cyclocross and mountain bike champion is the first pro-cyclist to be officially charged with Mechanical Doping. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sports cycling found a motor in one of Femke Van den Dreissche's bicycles during a pit stop at the 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championship. The two time champion was stripped of her women's 2015 European Cyclocross Championship as well as her 2016 Belgian Cyclocross Championship. She was banned for 6 years and has announced her retirement from cycling.

What's being done about it?

This is the first confirmed and evidenced case of Mechanical Doping. However, this is not the first the cycling world is hearing about it, nor is Ms. Van den Dreissche the first to be accused. Since 2010, there have been rumors and allegations of mechanical doping.

Screenshot Thermal Imaging Screenshot Thermal Imaging

Technology has its counter balances, and thermal imaging technology is being touted as a promising way to detect the motors in bikes. None of the suspected athletes have been formally accused or investigated, and there's so much room for oversight, the only way to truly know is to catch them in the act.

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