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UCI announces extensive plan to combat technological fraud

David Lappartient announces plan to deploy $700,000 X-ray machine to scan bikes



The UCI has announced the detection methods that will be deployed to combat technological fraud in professional cycling. One of the chief campaign promises of UCI president David Lappartient was to crack down on hidden motors which have allegedly been used in some of the biggest races in the world.

The UCI began using magnetic scanning tablets to detect motors in 2016. More recently, thermal imaging cameras have been in use but the UCI plans to introduce new more extensive measures to ensure no riders are using motors. Beginning in 2018, the UCI will deploy X-ray equipped trucks at Grand Tours and the biggest classics of the season.

The X-ray unit is capable of producing an X-ray image of a bike in five minutes and is transported in a lead-lined truck. The equipped was developed by VJ Technologies and reportedly cost £400,000 ($728,177). The UCI says they have the necessary authorization to use the machine in the countries where all the biggest races take place. The X-ray equippement will be deployed across 150 races of UCI sanctioned racing and will not be confined to road with cyclocross and mountain bike events also be covered.

A partnership between the UCI and CEA Tech has also been established with the aim of developing technologies to detect the magnetic fields associated with hidden motors with the goal of offering real-time, continuous monitoring of bikes during entire races. Another technology being explored are GPS chips to track bikes at all times during a race.

“Thanks to both current methods and those being developed, we possess both short- and medium-term measures that will reassure stakeholders, fans and the media,” Lappartient said. “As I have said on several occasions, our wish is to prove that these motors do not exist in the professional sport, thus validating our athletes’ performances. In accordance with my campaign commitment, we are also developing the capacity to support National Federations at national and amateur competitions.”

Femke Van Den Driessche was the first rider to be caught ucing a motor at a UCI sanctioned event at the 2016 cyclocross World Championships. Amateurs in France and Italy have also been caught using motors but the technology has yet to be found in the bike at UCI professional road events despite speculation that hidden motors have been used.