Belgian Rider Found with Hidden Motor at CX Worlds

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1/31/2016 11:05 AM



After much speculation on the subject, the day has come: a professional rider has been found in possession of a bike subjected to "motorized doping", i.e. featuring a concealed motor in the frame. The incident occurred at yesterday's Cyclocross World Championships, where 19-year old Femke Van den Driessche's bike was discovered with cables coming out of the seat tube and a motor concealed in the BB area.


Femke Van Den Driessche (Belgium) winning the women's U23 European championship (Bettini)

Speaking at a news conference today, UCI boss Brian Cookson said “It is no secret that a motor was found, we believe that it was indeed technological doping. Throughout the 2015 season, we carried out unannounced bike checks at major road events and we will conduct similar controls throughout the 2016 season, we have introduced in 2015 a set of Regulations that enables us to take action, and we’ve been trialling new methods of detection but you’ll understand why I don’t want to go into details of those methods."

The rider accused is denying any wrongdoing, as reported today on Cyclingnews:

"I didn’t know anything about it. I don’t know how that bike got there. I was surprised to see that bike standing there. It’s not my bike. There’s been a mistake,” she told the Belgian broadcaster Sporza. “There was nothing in the bike that I used at the start of the race. I train hard for it too, you know. Then it’s no fun to be accused like this.

“If I would’ve been on a bike like that I would’ve been more consistent. I’ve always peaked towards those moments. I worked really hard for it. I haven’t got anything to say about it but it’s really terrible.”

Van den Driessche offered up a potential reason for the bike’s presence, saying that it was owned by someone she’d been training with. “That bike belongs to a friend of mine,” she said. “He trains along with us. He joined my brothers and my father. That friend joined my brother at the reconnaissance and he placed the bike against the truck but it’s identical to mine. Last year he bought it from me. My mechanics have cleaned the bike and put it in the truck. They must’ve thought that it was my bike. I don’t know how it happened.”

The UCI reportedly implemented a new scanning technology to detect this kind of cheating at this very race. If the first race they try it at reveals a cheater, what does that say for racing in general? Could motors already have been used in MTB races? In light of the history of doping and cheating, it would be foolish to assume not...

Femke now faces a suspension of minimum 6 months and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Swiss Francs (approximately the same amount in USD). We'll monitor the story further as it develops.
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1/31/2016 11:21 AM

Let's not forget The Bike That Kept On Going:

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1/31/2016 11:22 AM

So that's how Gwin did it.

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1/31/2016 11:27 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/31/2016 11:28 AM

If some else can spot it, how do you not spot some cables runnig out of your own seattube?
How do you not sense it working? (if it was? article doesnt state that..)
How do you as a Pro biker dont notice increased weight?
I doubt her's friend has bike with identical setup to extend she doesnt notice.

how pathetic...

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1/31/2016 11:41 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/31/2016 11:42 AM

I'm with FilipK. I can tell if my bike is off by the most minute level...the seat up by a few mm, tire pressure off by a few psi, or my brake levers off by a degree...and I'm a rank amateur. For an elite level pro to not know is utter nonsense. And she just blindly rode out of the paddock without any sort of "pre-flight" check of her own bike?! Nonsense.

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1/31/2016 11:57 AM

Did you guys even read her statement? She is saying she never even rode the bike, the UCI picked up the bike from her pit, not from the track. If they picked it up from the track then yea, her statement would be total BS, but thats not the case. I'm not entirely sure that it wasn't her bike, but it wasn't necessarily the bike she was racing with.

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1/31/2016 12:30 PM

So she says she didn't race on it. But her mechanics, thought it was her bike and washed it and put it in the truck. Then handed it over to the UCI as her bike? So a pro-mechanic, who spends more hands on time with a bike than the rider often does couldn't tell?! I think she did it and is just rehashing the same tired excuse all cheaters use - "its not mine". The hesjadahl (sorry for the spelling) one also looks really suspicious to me. His bike looks like it stops and then accelerates.

The UCI seems to pay a lot less attention to mountain biking, as do the media. So I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be more prevalent than the roadies. Especially DH.

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1/31/2016 12:42 PM

iceman2058 wrote:

Let's not forget The Bike That Kept On Going:

Yes, let's not forget how easy it is to wrongly accuse people of "mechanical doping" out of ignorance. That poor guy not only got wrongly accused, but also had his bike run over (destroyed) by the motorbike (heavy, carrying 2 people).

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1/31/2016 12:51 PM

Also, don't forget that CX racers can have a bike swapped as sort of a pit stop thing, such as if one's overly covered in mud, often with a very similar, if not identical setup.

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1/31/2016 1:32 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/31/2016 1:33 PM

Varaxis wrote:

Also, don't forget that CX racers can have a bike swapped as sort of a pit stop thing, such as if one's overly covered in mud, often with a very similar, if not identical setup.

Yeah, Mitch63, cross racers switch bikes about every lap or two so they can get a clean bike. Just like all the other dopers she will deny until she's handed her sentence. Then a year or so later she will finally admit it and come clean so that "others can learn from my mistakes" and will hope to return claiming to clean up the sport.

I remember a few years back when Cancellara was accused of having a motor in his bike. They can't juice as easily as before so they go for the mechanical advantage?

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1/31/2016 1:45 PM

" What should I do shaggy? Tell 'em it wasn't you." If they had a system like the EWS where all the major parts of the bike are tagged, this wouldn't happen I'd wager.

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1/31/2016 2:36 PM

Shane Stokes at CyclingTips had the most interesting piece of context so far:

"Meanwhile Van den Driessche’s father has, predictably, insisted upon her innocence. [...] His words will likely be viewed with some scepticism, as her brother is currently serving a ban for EPO."
(source)

Not sure I trust Dad's defense after reading that. Also, the "friend's bike" story doesn't make sense. It's gotten more elaborate as the days go on, but I still don't believe that both a racer and her mechanic wouldn't know whose bike was in her pit during the most prestigious race of the entire year.

Re: Hesjedal's bike, there are a few videos out there showing that the momentum of the still-turning rear wheel alone is enough to spin a bike like that.

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1/31/2016 2:58 PM

andyd33 wrote:

So she says she didn't race on it. But her mechanics, thought it was her bike and washed it and put it in the truck. Then handed it over to the UCI as her bike? So a pro-mechanic, who spends more hands on time with a bike than the rider often does couldn't tell?! I think she did it and is just rehashing the same tired excuse all cheaters use - "its not mine". The hesjadahl (sorry for the spelling) one also looks really suspicious to me. His bike looks like it stops and then accelerates.

The UCI seems to pay a lot less attention to mountain biking, as do the media. So I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be more prevalent than the roadies. Especially DH.

Especially DH??!!! IMO Downhill racing is the last place a system like this would be found considering the punishment the bikes take. And more importantly what would be the point? We've seen Gwin win without a chain and Bryceland hardly looks to be pedalling his balls off when on his was to a win. I like to think that there is very little cheating in Downhill simply because it's almost impossible to, no chance of cutting the course, electric motors provide little to no advantage and would only work whilst pedaling, and bike setup is totally up to you as there are no setup regulations. This may be my blissful ignorance and if anyone wants to correct me and inform me of all the ways people can cheat in DH I'd be grateful and depressed at the same time.

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1/31/2016 3:02 PM

Varaxis wrote:

Also, don't forget that CX racers can have a bike swapped as sort of a pit stop thing, such as if one's overly covered in mud, often with a very similar, if not identical setup.

xyian wrote:

Yeah, Mitch63, cross racers switch bikes about every lap or two so they can get a clean bike. Just like all the other dopers she will deny until she's handed her sentence. Then a year or so later she will finally admit it and come clean so that "others can learn from my mistakes" and will hope to return claiming to clean up the sport.

I remember a few years back when Cancellara was accused of having a motor in his bike. They can't juice as easily as before so they go for the mechanical advantage?

Ahh, I dont know much about CX so that certainly makes more sense.

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1/31/2016 3:29 PM

AGR97 wrote:

Especially DH??!!! IMO Downhill racing is the last place a system like this would be found considering the punishment the bikes take. And more importantly what would be the point? We've seen Gwin win without a chain and Bryceland hardly looks to be pedalling his balls off when on his was to a win. I like to think that there is very little cheating in Downhill simply because it's almost impossible to, no chance of cutting the course, electric motors provide little to no advantage and would only work whilst pedaling, and bike setup is totally up to you as there are no setup regulations. This may be my blissful ignorance and if anyone wants to correct me and inform me of all the ways people can cheat in DH I'd be grateful and depressed at the same time.

Being very sceptical, you two examples of gwin without a chain and bryceland barely pedalling could be see as reason to suspect there is something foul at play.

Honestly, I have no idea. I just get the impression that dh is pretty well ignored by the UCI. I don't see the UCI scanning dh bikes at world's like this CX race. That's mostly where my comment came from, that the oversight seems much more lax at dh.

I can see advantages in dh for the system. Getting up to speed out of the start gate or exiting a tight corner. Every 10th counts.

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1/31/2016 4:53 PM

The brother is on a ban for EPO and the sister is found with a motor in 'her friends' bike....

I'm going to take a wild guess and say Dad is a 'you better win child or you're a failure' type of person!

The mindset to cheat like these 2 have doesn't just happen overnight.

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1/31/2016 4:54 PM

andyd33 wrote:

Being very sceptical, you two examples of gwin without a chain and bryceland barely pedalling could be see as reason to suspect there is something foul at play.

Honestly, I have no idea. I just get the impression that dh is pretty well ignored by the UCI. I don't see the UCI scanning dh bikes at world's like this CX race. That's mostly where my comment came from, that the oversight seems much more lax at dh.

I can see advantages in dh for the system. Getting up to speed out of the start gate or exiting a tight corner. Every 10th counts.

come on dude, Gwin? The system pictured above would not function without a chain. The guy is the most talented DH rider alive right now, period. Not a cheater. Ratboy? Just as good, up there.

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1/31/2016 5:03 PM

AGR97 wrote:

Especially DH??!!! IMO Downhill racing is the last place a system like this would be found considering the punishment the bikes take. And more importantly what would be the point? We've seen Gwin win without a chain and Bryceland hardly looks to be pedalling his balls off when on his was to a win. I like to think that there is very little cheating in Downhill simply because it's almost impossible to, no chance of cutting the course, electric motors provide little to no advantage and would only work whilst pedaling, and bike setup is totally up to you as there are no setup regulations. This may be my blissful ignorance and if anyone wants to correct me and inform me of all the ways people can cheat in DH I'd be grateful and depressed at the same time.

andyd33 wrote:

Being very sceptical, you two examples of gwin without a chain and bryceland barely pedalling could be see as reason to suspect there is something foul at play.

Honestly, I have no idea. I just get the impression that dh is pretty well ignored by the UCI. I don't see the UCI scanning dh bikes at world's like this CX race. That's mostly where my comment came from, that the oversight seems much more lax at dh.

I can see advantages in dh for the system. Getting up to speed out of the start gate or exiting a tight corner. Every 10th counts.

blast_off wrote:

come on dude, Gwin? The system pictured above would not function without a chain. The guy is the most talented DH rider alive right now, period. Not a cheater. Ratboy? Just as good, up there.

Armstrong was the most talented tour rider alive at one point also blast_off.... just saying.

Not saying Gwin is cheating, I don't get that 'win at all cost' attitude from him but just because someone is winning and we want them or their talent to be legit, doesn't guarantee it is.

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1/31/2016 5:26 PM

andyd33 wrote:

Being very sceptical, you two examples of gwin without a chain and bryceland barely pedalling could be see as reason to suspect there is something foul at play.

Honestly, I have no idea. I just get the impression that dh is pretty well ignored by the UCI. I don't see the UCI scanning dh bikes at world's like this CX race. That's mostly where my comment came from, that the oversight seems much more lax at dh.

I can see advantages in dh for the system. Getting up to speed out of the start gate or exiting a tight corner. Every 10th counts.

blast_off wrote:

come on dude, Gwin? The system pictured above would not function without a chain. The guy is the most talented DH rider alive right now, period. Not a cheater. Ratboy? Just as good, up there.

endureperformance wrote:

Armstrong was the most talented tour rider alive at one point also blast_off.... just saying.

Not saying Gwin is cheating, I don't get that 'win at all cost' attitude from him but just because someone is winning and we want them or their talent to be legit, doesn't guarantee it is.

Sorry, I wasn't very clear.

I wasn't suggesting gwin and ratboy are cheating. I don't think they are. I don't want to think anyone is, but that would be naive. I was merely trying to say that if you wanted to be sceptical you could think that winning a race without a chain on a pedal previously pedal friendly track could be used to suggest something foul.

My thoughts about dh (and now I think about it, ews since they aren't even in the UCI) were just that, because it seems to receive less scrutiny and less money to pay for that scrutiny, there might be more fishy business going on than we would like to acknowledge. Especially given the lax technical regs compared to road cycling.

I could easily be way off base, and I hope I am. I have no proof. I've not been to a world cup so I don't know what the UCI environment is like. It's just a hunch.

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1/31/2016 6:18 PM

anotherbikerguy wrote:

Shane Stokes at CyclingTips had the most interesting piece of context so far:

"Meanwhile Van den Driessche’s father has, predictably, insisted upon her innocence. [...] His words will likely be viewed with some scepticism, as her brother is currently serving a ban for EPO."
(source)

Not sure I trust Dad's defense after reading that. Also, the "friend's bike" story doesn't make sense. It's gotten more elaborate as the days go on, but I still don't believe that both a racer and her mechanic wouldn't know whose bike was in her pit during the most prestigious race of the entire year.

Re: Hesjedal's bike, there are a few videos out there showing that the momentum of the still-turning rear wheel alone is enough to spin a bike like that.

Im sorry, but I've seen the videos, and I'm not convinced. In not one video did they directly reenact the event. A bike carrying momentum from a spinning wheel, the wheel is then dragged on the ground for ten feet (the part not shown in any reenactment), the bike comes to a full stop, and it isn't moving again until his foot is free of the pedal allowing the motor to then move freely and carry the bike. It then picks up speed and pulls the bike more than 180 degrees, the latter part of which was uphill before it was run over. I've reenacted the event many times on high-end road bikes (think light wheels-easy to stop, easy to accelerate), on flat, uphill, and downhill, and on a variety of surfaces- Tarmac, pavement, smooth concrete- and have yet to see similar actions from the bike. A mere second after the spinning wheel contacts the ground, it may pull the bike a little, but it stops nearly immediately and at most spins 90 degrees. Add the weight of the rider on the wheel, and it stops even quicker. But in no instance from a test- with the bike unmanned and un-influenced- did the bike pull as much as it did in the crash.
I have also shown many people the video (some of which have a fairly strong background in physics) and 9/10 times they are CERTAIN the bike is rigged.

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1/31/2016 7:08 PM

Hasn't the sport learned from the past, in that every rider who has been caught cheating denies it? Poor girl is guilty, she's been caught and she's mortified. Why did she do it? You'll likely have to ask her father that, and also her brother.... he's already banned.

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1/31/2016 8:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/31/2016 8:34 PM

That friend's bike story would be a pre-planned alibi for use in case she got caught .
So .... how efficient is a motor small enough to fit inside a BB anyway?? I might get one for my XC bike if it is a significant boost, but I suspect she probably got a

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1/31/2016 8:41 PM

^^^.....small boost from it
( crazy blog won't let me edit my post for some reason)

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1/31/2016 8:49 PM

Hmm, would 'cables coming out of the seat tube' be easy to spot in video of the race? That seems like the only thing that could exonerate her.

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1/31/2016 9:27 PM

The cables were internal and found when they pulled the seatpost. Once they scanned the bike and pulled the seatpost they tried to pull the BB and it would not come out easily. Upon further inspection they found the motor.

BTW there is no way in hell that a mechanic would allow that bike in the pits. There is also no way that they would not notice it. The system adds several pounds of weight to the bike.

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1/31/2016 9:45 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/31/2016 9:49 PM

T-Dawg wrote:

That friend's bike story would be a pre-planned alibi for use in case she got caught .
So .... how efficient is a motor small enough to fit inside a BB anyway?? I might get one for my XC bike if it is a significant boost, but I suspect she probably got a

There is a production model that offer settings to provide 250W of power for up to 30 mins,100W for 1h, 50-75W for 1.5h. A higher end model runs silent (ceramic) and hide its batteries better.

If you're like me, that's hardly any less than my own body's performance stats during winter. To almost double that...

See here: http://cyclingtips.com/2015/07/hidden-motor-demonstration-with-greg-lemond/

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2/1/2016 2:08 AM

blast_off wrote:

come on dude, Gwin? The system pictured above would not function without a chain. The guy is the most talented DH rider alive right now, period. Not a cheater. Ratboy? Just as good, up there.

endureperformance wrote:

Armstrong was the most talented tour rider alive at one point also blast_off.... just saying.

Not saying Gwin is cheating, I don't get that 'win at all cost' attitude from him but just because someone is winning and we want them or their talent to be legit, doesn't guarantee it is.

andyd33 wrote:

Sorry, I wasn't very clear.

I wasn't suggesting gwin and ratboy are cheating. I don't think they are. I don't want to think anyone is, but that would be naive. I was merely trying to say that if you wanted to be sceptical you could think that winning a race without a chain on a pedal previously pedal friendly track could be used to suggest something foul.

My thoughts about dh (and now I think about it, ews since they aren't even in the UCI) were just that, because it seems to receive less scrutiny and less money to pay for that scrutiny, there might be more fishy business going on than we would like to acknowledge. Especially given the lax technical regs compared to road cycling.

I could easily be way off base, and I hope I am. I have no proof. I've not been to a world cup so I don't know what the UCI environment is like. It's just a hunch.

The point is that the kind of motor that sparked this discussion provides power to the cranks via the bottom bracket and so would be useless without the chain or when not pedalling and any form of internal hub motor in the rear wheel would be easily noticable due to its size. What other form of mechanical assistance could there be in DH?

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2/1/2016 3:14 AM

How did the mechanic not realize cables coming out of the seat-tube? Apart from all the little unique touches that a pro-bike has...

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2/1/2016 5:05 AM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2016 5:06 AM

andyd33 wrote:

So she says she didn't race on it. But her mechanics, thought it was her bike and washed it and put it in the truck. Then handed it over to the UCI as her bike? So a pro-mechanic, who spends more hands on time with a bike than the rider often does couldn't tell?! I think she did it and is just rehashing the same tired excuse all cheaters use - "its not mine". The hesjadahl (sorry for the spelling) one also looks really suspicious to me. His bike looks like it stops and then accelerates.

The UCI seems to pay a lot less attention to mountain biking, as do the media. So I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be more prevalent than the roadies. Especially DH.

AGR97 wrote:

Especially DH??!!! IMO Downhill racing is the last place a system like this would be found considering the punishment the bikes take. And more importantly what would be the point? We've seen Gwin win without a chain and Bryceland hardly looks to be pedalling his balls off when on his was to a win. I like to think that there is very little cheating in Downhill simply because it's almost impossible to, no chance of cutting the course, electric motors provide little to no advantage and would only work whilst pedaling, and bike setup is totally up to you as there are no setup regulations. This may be my blissful ignorance and if anyone wants to correct me and inform me of all the ways people can cheat in DH I'd be grateful and depressed at the same time.

Judging from the little available space in a CX frame, this contraption wouldn't be thought to be more than something aimed to provide an edge over the other racers at a certain part of the race (i.e. a heavy slope you have to climb). Just like those nitro boosts in some video games. How would you use such a thing in a DH course, while spinning your legs at top rpm?

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2/1/2016 8:15 AM

slimshady wrote:

Judging from the little available space in a CX frame, this contraption wouldn't be thought to be more than something aimed to provide an edge over the other racers at a certain part of the race (i.e. a heavy slope you have to climb). Just like those nitro boosts in some video games. How would you use such a thing in a DH course, while spinning your legs at top rpm?

Having the energy to pedal hard to the finish in many DH tracks is a big deal. The assist of a motor would allow a rider to pedal harder when they're tired. I don't suspect any racers to do it, and can only shake my head at the guy who said that Gwin and Ratboy winning with little pedaling makes them more suspect, but there's no denying that it's something that could happen.

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