European Champion Femke Van den Driessche (BEL) got caught in a media storm immediately after the race as her bike was confiscated by the UCI under suspicion of mechanical fraud aka 'mechanical doping'. Apparently she will have the doubtful honour of becoming the very first rider in history to be caught with a motor in (one of) her frame(s).

Women U23 Race
UCI 2016 cyclocross World Championships
  • velocite

    A fantastic story! But I’m wondering, is there any evidence she rode the motorized bike in the race, or any race? Should there be a rule against bike races having concealed motors on any bike they use, even for training? In the same way that carrying a concealed weapon can be an offence?

    • RayG

      The regulation is shown and explained over at The “the mere presence of a bicycle on the margins of a race is sufficient
      for a ban. If a bike with a motor is found in the pits or fixed to the
      roof of the team car that’s enough, it doesn’t have to be ridden in

      • velocite

        Thanks for that. Good post by InnerRing, as usual. But maybe the rule could be extended to ‘at any time’. What would a pro want with a concealed motor at any time at all? They get rubbed out for taking recreational drugs – not sure why, so why not concealed mortors out of competition?

        • RayG

          I think they get rubbed out for drugs like cocaine *in competition*. AFAIR, Tommeke didn’t get suspended by the UCI for his cocaine positive because it was out of competition (although his moralising team suspended him), but Luca Paolini was tested in competition.

          And what possible performance benefit, that could justify a suspension, would having a motor out of competition have ?

          • velocite

            Well, none at all, so why would you have one, other than to create the possibility of using it in anger?

  • Nitro

    “…it’s exactly the same bike as I use…”

    Exactly the same size / same pedals / same saddle position…

    I know nothing about the case apart from what I’ve read, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there may just be a possibility that….

    • Neil

      Bang on, this seems the easiest way to verify. Check the position. If it’s the same as what she rides, case closed.
      Besides, I find it hard to believe that a guy would buy a female pro’s bike, install (presumably) a very expensive, hidden motor system, and not swap a female saddle for male.

    • Geoff

      if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there may just be a possibility that…. it’s Julia Gillard?

  • Mark Blackwell

    Hidden motors always seemed so fanciful that CT (and others) have taken a bit of heat and dare I say it, ridicule, for perpetuating the story. Seems that the depths athletes will stoop to really do know no bounds (both in the act and in the denial).

  • Paolo

    Maybe she shouldn’t mention her for EPO use banned brother. Doesn’t help her cause. Where is the friend btw? He could just say , “Hey, give me my bike bag.”

    • Paolo

      *back ;-)

    • Chuck


  • Torontoflatlander

    So you took a bike from the pits and didn’t notice the 2-3lb weight difference right off the bat? Also had a bike in the same position as your own, and somehow your mechanics who did the work on it didn’t notice the weight difference either? If this is all a mistake then it will serve as a harsh example to all. If she did in fact knowingly cheat, then bring down that hammer as hard as it fell on Lance.

    • saimin

      Is she still claiming that she never touched this bike?

      • Dave


        The UCI rule bans the possession of a stealth moto bike at (or near) a race, not just the riding of it.

  • jules

    I feel for her. that happens to all the time. I’m at the cafe and a few short blacks later, I ride off on a bike that is identical to mine – same brand, parts, seat height, stem length, pedals. last time I was going to return it but I saw “123km” on the Garmin and thought “I’m keeping that, new PB for distance on Strava!”

    • Cameron Harris

      Instant gran fondo badge success!

      • jules

        I got heaps of kudos, but then the cops turned up when Garmin auto-uploaded the ride to both our Strava accounts and I was busted.

  • Léon van Berlo

    Last year the bike had purple cables; this year green. What color where the cables on the bike the caught? Is somebody checking the story? What are journalist for these days?

    • Neil

      There seems to be a range of more reliable ways to check the bike. I can imagine pros changing cables pretty regularly.

      • Dave

        And in CX racing where bikes are swapped quite regularly, having different coloured cables (or bar tape, or saddle) could be a convenient method for the mechanic to quickly tell which bike is which.

        Kind of like the rule in F1 where each team has one of the cars with an orange roll hoop and the other without.

    • Dave

      I can’t answer, as I’m not familiar with the relevant EU standards for colouring of communication and power cables.

      It would probably depend on whether there’s a separate control circuit, or simply an on/off switch breaking the circuit on the power cable.

    • Baz

      Come on mate, are they really journalist?
      Just bike fans who can spell

  • Nick Orloff

    That excuse never worked for me when I was caught with cigarettes as a teenager. Just saying.

    • Adrian

      Me neither. What’s with that?

    • Dave

      You obviously didn’t try concealing your cigarettes in a bike’s seat tube.

      What? They can even find stuff hidden in there these days?

      • I put a sausage down my mate’s seat tube at the beginning of one season. It smelled like death by the end of the season. It would have been worth the 6 month ban if I were caught.

        • Simon

          Reminds me of that story a few years back in the UK of the guy caught in “flagrante delicto” making love to his seat tube.

          • The voice of reason

            But Your Honour, in my defence, the Cycling Tips review said the bike was “an Italian beauty”…

        • Dave

          That’s brilliant!

        • Andy Logan

          Another reason ISP’s are so good….

  • Arfy

    Her story probably does have an element of truth to it. If you want a bike to “turn up” in time for the race, then “disappear” soon after the race finishes, what better way than to have a “friend” with the exact same bike coincidentally turn up?

  • saimin

    She needs to come clean about who built the motor and who installed it. If she is still claiming that “a friend” did it, then produce this friend and have him or her name names and see where that leads. Very unlikely that only one person is involved.

    • My_Oath

      If the story is true, I would have expected the ‘friend’ to have immediately come forward to report their story to the UCI and media. More than a day later and it is still some ‘nameless friend’? I don’t believe the story at this point.

      • Dave

        Yes, any true friend would be more than happy to come forward to the relevant authorities and help out her friend who is in trouble.

        I don’t thing the friend needs to go to the media, just the relevant sporting authorities who could in turn issue a press release confirming it has been sorted out.

    • saimin

      Part of the problem is that the lame journalists aren’t asking even marginally useful questions, like what is the name of this so-called friend?

  • Erick Ray

    I feel like the UCI has to begin making the consequences for cheating more severe to deter cheating in all of it’s many forms. The UCI needs to not be afraid that an event, whether it is a classic or not, is cancelled because the sponsors don’t want to increase the measures taken to ensure that cheaters are minimized in any given event. If the UCI would take a hard stance against cheating and cheaters and not fear that they will lose out by providing the best and fair competition they might actually see and increase in viewers and fans.

    Van den Driessche is disingenuous when she says “I didn’t know” and “It’s a friends bike”. That is what drug addicts say when they get caught red handed. Be honest miss and admit you knew it was there. How can you say you didn’t know your own bike? You just look stupid by not admitting your are a cheater and move on with your life. Since you are an adult you deserve a life time ban from cycling, so does your mechanic and at the very least your team manager. The team owner should fire everyone involved and start over.

    If Van den Driessche was a minor she should be banned from competition until she is an Adult and have 1 year probation once she turns pro with the caveat that if she is caught in any type of cheating after she would be immediately banned for life and any wins be vacated and prize money returned.

    Any Mechanic caught cheating should face the same punishment, a lifetime ban from work with any team that falls under UCI jurisdiction.

    Any team found to be complicit in cheating would be dealt with the same as a mechanic except the punishment would be a minimum 5 year ban and a complete restructuring of the team would need to be made before the team could be reinstated. A 2nd team offense would result in a life time ban for the team and its owner. The owner could never be a part of another professional team even if they are a partner in a corporation or share holder in a company that is a primary sponsor of a team.

    Riders and Mechanics who have been banned would be banned in the same way as team owners in that they cannot work in any capacity with any team once they are banned.

    Any person serving a lifetime ban who is caught breaking any of the conditions of their ban would receive a minimum $1,00,000 fine and the potential ban for any team and/or rider working with them.

    I know this seems harsh but unless a strong stance is made the UCI will get walked on day in and day out. Once you set the precedent and hold everyone accountable and everyone sees that they can’t cheat because the first one caught gets the actual harshest punishment possible then everyone will fall in line and follow until they think the UCI is relaxed and when the next cheater is caught, hold the line.

    • jules

      let’s consider some examples of where this approach to compliance has been adopted – North Korea, China, Dickensian Britain, Pol Pot’s Kampuchea.

      there may be some unintended consequences

    • Dave

      She’s 19 – an adult according to the EU and definitely old enough to know you can’t ride a moto in a bike race. The sport is healthy enough without her, so I agree with a life ban to prevent (with near 100% certainty) re-offending.

      On the issue of suspending the team, the minimum sanction applicable in the UCI rule for this offence is a six month suspension and a CHF100,000 fine. In the case of a private sector team, this is more than enough to sink the whole team permanently. It will be interesting to see what sort of sanction (if any) can be applied to a national federation though, because it’s not a ‘team’ as such.

      As far as I know, the UCI does not currently have the power to ban mechanics, and the options for banning team directors are speculative at best. Apart from the rule against advertising of hard liquor, there is also no capacity to ban sponsors.

      Regarding the enforcement of bans from entering races or working in the sport, there’s no need to have a fine for breaching the conditions as banned people simply don’t get passes accrediting them to work at races.

  • Marc Metzger

    And the dog ate my homework…

  • roklando

    the dog ate her homework.

  • Tim

    I think it’s a storm in a seat tube!

  • Tim

    I think it’s a storm in a seat tube!

  • Dave

    I love the fact her regular pro team’s name is:

    “Kleur Op Matt – No Drugs”

    Change the last half of the name to “No Drugs Needed” maybe?

  • Holby City

    Where was the on/off button? Did she press it?

    • Dave

      A system providing assistance only when the pedals are moving (i.e. adding to the pedalling effort, rather than being an independent power source) would not necessarily need a rider-activated switch.

      There is not, as yet, any independent confirmation of whether she rode it or not – just her claim that she didn’t. However, possession of a motorised bike at a race is just as much an offence under the relevant UCI rule as actually riding one.

      • MMaster

        systems such as Vivax Assist (which is what this sounds like) still require an on/off switch, it doesn’t run constantly (under load)…Constant assist would require a large battery….this sounds like a modified system with a hidden battery

  • Oparlis

    This is brilliant, I was getting sick of drug stories.

    • Dave

      It will have its downsides though. Riders could now feel more confident in getting away with sock height violations this year.

      • MMaster

        @Dave, I salute your insight!

  • Scott

    She could have at least use the Tyler Hamilton “vanishing Twin” defence.

  • James Fifield

    Sad to see another, new form of cheating proven. In terms of verifying/disproving her story I agree it would be good to know the name of the “friend”. Additionally, if true, there would likely be a corresponding bank transfer, and, even if the payment was cash, in this day and age I would expect there to some sort of correspondence about the sale (text message, social media etc.).
    That none of this has been demonstrated by the accused makes me supsicious

  • david__g

    The video from this season’s Koppenberg, where she just pulls away from Nikki Harris with ease suddenly becomes very telling. As does her time up the Koppenberg – I believe she was 10 seconds faster than any other woman. This includes Wyman, Cant, Harris and someone called de Jong (I think she’s pretty good ;))

  • pauldr

    Why did she sell the bike and then get another one exactly the same??

  • Mr.iki

    okay, my daughter was behind a gentleman walking down fifth avenue and he was quacking like a duck. why? i know the answer see if you can tell me what it is.

    • pete

      He was on drugs. Probably quack cocaine

  • Burt Fleming

    How in the world did a professional mechanic/crew not notice? Riders can feel the smallest differences, we can see when something is off from 10 paces!!! This person was washing this bike and set it up and didn’t notice a weight difference? “What’s this little switch for?” DUH? Did he not remove the components to grease/oil them? “What’s this battery doing here? Well I might as well change it.” “Why are there two extra screws at the base of the seatpost?” Good Grief!!!

  • ChannelSixtyNine69

    The problem I have with her version of events is how she did not notice the handle bar mounted on/off switch. It is reasonably large with a red button on it.
    The only way to stop this from happening is to have bikes serial numbered and stored in a secure place when all work is completed. These bikes must be the only ones used in the event.


Pin It on Pinterest

October 22, 2016
October 21, 2016
October 20, 2016