Over the weekend, Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a mototized bike in the U23 women’s race at the cyclocross world championships. “Motor-doping” is a form of cheating. While Van den Driessche is the first to be caught, the incident has opened up dialogue in the cycling and triathlon communities, some calling it worse than drug-doping.
Bike with motors. It exists. Femke Van Den Driessche has the dubious honor to be the first one caught with it. Ever. #CXzolder
— José Been (@TourDeJose) January 30, 2016
— Melanie McQuaid (@melradcoaching) January 30, 2016
Cycling legend Eddy Merckx has also weighed in. The former pro rider says that anyone caught with a motorized bike should serve a lifetime ban from sport.
“They should suspend them for life,” he told reporters. “For me, they should suspend them for life. This is the worst that they can do, they should just race motorbikes then.” He added, “For me, it’s (worse) than doping. It gives you 50 watts more, or 100, it depends on the (motor). It’s no longer cycling at that point, it’s motor racing.”
There have long been suspicions among athletes of motor doping in cycling and triathlon. Currently, there are fines set in place by the UCI (up to 200,000 Swiss francs) as well as a minimum six-month suspension. UCI President Brian Cookson announced that there will be more rigorous bike testing at cycling events going forward.
In this video, retired American cycling Greg LeMond demonstrates how riders could hide a motor in their bike.