Motorized cheating case moves forward

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Feb. 10, 2016
  • Updated Feb. 16, 2016 at 2:42 PM EDT
Belgian Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a hidden motor in her bike at the cyclocross worlds. Photo: Tim De Waele |

The UCI has referred the sport’s first motorized cheating case to its Disciplinary Commission, which will hear arguments from all relevant parties in the coming weeks.

The bike of Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was found to contain a motorized crankset at the U23 world cyclocross championships in January. Her case will be put before a panel of either one or three members of the Commission (likely three in this case), and will be heard at UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. Panel members will call witnesses and experts, and Van den Driessche may either submit her own defense or be assisted by an advisor.

Read the explainer about how the UCI will prosecute technological fraud >>

Van den Driessche will be notified by mail of the result. She can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, just as in a physiological doping case.

The minimum penalty for an individual found in breach of the UCI’s technical fraud regulations, which ban the use of propulsion of any kind, is a six-month suspension and a fine of 20,000 CHF. There is no maximum penalty.

Teams are also liable, though it is unclear how the UCI will define a team in this case. Van den Driessche races for the Kleur op Matt – No Drugs team during the regular season but was with the Belgian national team at worlds. A team can also be suspended for six months (or more) and fined between 100,000 and 1,000,000 CHF.

Van den Driessche maintains that the bike in question was not hers. She claims it was a friend’s bike, one she sold last year. It was sitting around, and a mechanic grabbed it.

However, technological fraud places strict liability on the rider and the team involved, so if non-compliant equipment is found near a team or race, “within or in the margins of a cycling competition,” as the UCI rule states, it qualifies as technological fraud.

A non-compliant bicycle is one that doesn’t conform to the rules laid out in Article 1.3.010 of the UCI’s technical regulations, which bans motors.


Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Senior Editor Caley Fretz can be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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