Professional cycling is big business. Along with big business comes the temptation to cut corners and achieve unfair advantage over competitors. The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) has taken some much publicized action against cyclists caught doping.
Another kind of cheating in the cycling world has been rumoured for a few years. Allegations that some of the top performers have miniature motors secreted in their bicycles have been made. Top cyclist Chris Froome has had his bicycles x-rayed numerous times in search of possible motors. All his bikes were clean. Fabian Cancellara was accused of secreting tiny motors within his competition bikes. His bikes were disassembled in search of “mechanical doping”. He is reputed to have laughed off the accusations and pointed out that he had two motors – his legs.
Internet sites are available that show how a very small motor could be concealed within the tubing or wheel hub of a bicycle. Even so it all seemed pretty far fetched.
Until now. A competitor in the under 23 cyclocross world championships was caught with a device secreted in her bicycle. She claims an innocent mistake was made and that the offending bicycle was not hers. She claims that the race bike belonged to a friend and was mistakenly handed to her by her mechanic.
It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud. There was a concealed motor. I don’t think there are any secrets about that,” UCI president Brian Cookson told a news conference. Velo News
Two time TDF winner Chris Froome is taking the “mechanical doping” of competition bikes seriously and has spoken to cycling’s reform commission about the new form of fraud.
Just as the chemical doping of athletes with performance enhancing substances has evolved over the years, so too is mechanical doping. Apparently the placing of electric motors is now passé. The new way of cheating is to embed wires within the carbon structure of the rear wheel. Twenty to 60 watts of electricity are reputed to be generated to assist the rider. The athlete need never know that he is riding a doped bike.
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