Cycling authorities have finally caught a unicorn.
A Belgian cyclist is facing the end of her short career after she was caught riding a motorised bicycle in the world cyclo-cross championship in Zolder, Belgium.
“It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud,” Bryan Cookson, the president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), said.
“There was a concealed motor. I don’t think there are any secrets about that.”
Known as “bike doping”, hidden motors have been little more than a rumour. Pro cyclists were laughing at the suggestion just six months ago after a video emerged of an official at the Giro d’Italia checking eventual race winner Alberto Contador’s bike very thoroughly, even removing the cranks:
“The whole thing about motors is a joke, it comes from the world of science fiction,” Contador said afterwards.
Three months later, 34-year-old Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka was subjected to the same scrutiny after becoming the fastest time trialist on the planet:
The UCI didn’t find a motor, and the rider was allowed to accept his gold medal and rainbow jersey.
Pro cyclists have since been subjected to being whipped off immediately after crossing the finish line to have the bikes inspected “as part of an ongoing effort to root out what has, thus far, proven to be a unicorn of a rule violation — a bike that powers itself,” VeloNews reported in July last year.
“Though the technology does exist, few pros seem to think it feasible.”
But now, the practice can’t be denied and the world of pro cycling has a whole new headache.
Teenager Femke Van den Driessche was in tears after the race, and is claiming she was unaware the bike had a tiny motor, saying it was belonged to a friend.
Identical to hers, she said it given to her accidentally by a mechanic.
But whether she will have to serve a ban is not the main issue. The point is, “bike doping” can be done, and cannot be denied any longer.