UEC developing action plan to address technological fraud

The European Cycling Union (UEC) has said it is developing an “action plan” to combat the issue of technological fraud within the sport in light of an incident at last month’s Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

The championships, which took place over the weekend of January 30-31 in the Belgian municipality of Heusden-Zolder, were marred after a concealed motor was found on the bike being used by home rider Femke Van den Driessche during the women’s under-23 race.

The 19-year-old was forced to withdraw from the event after the bike was seized, with International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson at the time stating it was “absolutely clear there was technological fraud”.

The UEC has now released a statement calling on the UCI to take “fast, tough and effective action”. Van den Driessche has maintained her innocence in the case, insisting that the bike belonged to a friend and had been given to her accidentally by a team mechanic.

“This sad event strikes a blow to the credibility of our sport, and reminds us that our organisations must be relentless in the fight against all types of fraud, whether chemical or technological,” the UEC’s statement read. “We must be intransigent in the defence of our values.

“The news of 30 January 2016 calls for fast, tough and effective action by all of our cycling families, especially our governing bodies.”

The UCI last year introduced regulations stating that any rider found guilty of ‘technological doping’ would be suspended for a minimum period of six months and ordered to pay a fine of between CHF20,000 (€18,200/$20,400) and CHF200,000.

The UCI had also brought in bike checks for road racing events over the past season. The case of Van den Driessche, who will now face a disciplinary hearing, represented the first such incident at a major competition.

The UEC's statement added: “The European Cycling Union urges the UCI to move swiftly in the coming weeks to step up strict checks before and after races, to put an end to the growing climate of suspicion and preserve the image of cycling.

“Now, more than ever, especially in an Olympic year, everything must be done to closely inspect bicycles and wheels, as the European Cycling Union first proposed on 20 July 2015.

“The European Cycling Union is developing an action plan, to be examined at our annual meeting in March 2016, and then submitted to the UCI.”