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UCI considering in-race bike testing

LONDON (AFP) — The UCI is investigating the possibility of testing riders in the middle of road races as it looks to take on the threat of mechanical doping in the sport.

Belgian teenager Femke Van den Driessche was discovered to have a motor inside the frame of her bike at the recent cyclocross world championships, a revelation that sparked speculation that the problem may be more widespread.

UCI president Brian Cookson insists that the world governing body is on the ball when it comes to “technological fraud” and even considering drastic new testing procedures.

“The technology that we have now allows testing perhaps not literally on the move, but it’s very flexible, it’s very lightweight,” said Cookson from the track world championships in London.

“It can even be attached to an iPhone, certainly an iPad. We will be testing before, after and, if necessary, during (races) from time to time.

“We have an open mind at looking at the opportunities for that. We will maybe have a commissaire on a motorbike who will stop with a rider who is changing a bike.

“We’ll look for suspicious and intelligence-led solutions, as we are doing in the anti-doping field. We have a small anti-doping intelligence testing function, looking at connections between anti-doping agencies’ information, from customs, governments, police authorities.

“That approach we’re spreading to mechanical, technological fraud as well.”

Cookson insisted that the UCI’s investigations will cover all disciplines of the sport.

“At the moment we’re looking at a random system, but all of the events, all of the bikes will be checked as they go on,” he said.

“I’m not saying 100 percent, every bike will be tested, but I think you can be assured every medalist here will have had their bike tested.”

Van den Driessche is still to have her punishment handed out for the offense, with Cookson calling for her to be dealt with in the strongest possible way.

“The UCI has requested extremely stiff penalties. It’s fair to say that, in something like this, not just the rider can be sanctioned and will be involved.”