Belgian cyclist banned for six years for motorized doping
By Neil Robinson
(Reuters) - The Belgian cyclist caught during competition in January with an electric motor hidden in one of her bikes has been banned for six years and fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,603.69), the sport's governing body said on Tuesday.
Femke Van den Driessche, 19, was found guilty of violating competition rules through "technological fraud" during the 2016 Cyclo-cross world championships, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said earlier.
It is the first time an elite rider has been punished for so-called "mechanical doping". A UCI statement on Tuesday described the ban as "a major victory" in the fight against a form of cheating seen as a growing problem in the sport.
"The bike concerned was scanned using the new magnetic resonance testing deployed this year by the UCI. This detected the motor whilst the bike was in the rider's pit area," the statement said.
It said the Vivax motor was concealed along with a battery in the seat-tube, and was controlled by a Bluetooth switch installed underneath the handlebar tape.
Van den Driessche denied knowing that the bike broke the rules, and said it belonged to her friend. But she later decided not to contest the finding and quit the sport.
In a sign of a get-tough policy by the UCI, Van den Driessche has seen all her competitive results nullified since October 2015 and been stripped of her ranking.
She has also been ordered to return medals and prize monies from events in which she competed over that period, and to pay costs of the proceedings. Continued...