Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2016 special
  • Nico

    A good, nuanced and complex response to the knee-jerk reaction of fans scrabbling to come up with 30 second solutions.

    Unfortunately nuanced responses make bad clickbait or Twitter fodder.

    It was amazing how quickly cycling followers have become electromagnetic detection experts!

    • Saeba R.


      And yesterday they were medical experts as well!!

  • Chris Carpenter

    Ok, I’m gonna ask a really daft question. Why not remove the seat post and use an imaging device? That plus taking out the crankset would surely reveal all? What am I missing here, there must be something otherwise talk about XRay, ultrasonics etc.

    • david__g

      Mechanical solutions take time. Even a skilled mechanic would take a couple of minutes to remove and reinstall a crankset. That times however many bikes = a long time.

    • ebbe

      As I read it, you are is suggesting removing the seat post, and *only* when they see something abnormal remove the crankset. Right? Or am I misreading it?

      Assuming so… Yes, this would indeed be a lot quicker and (quite importantly) less prone to errors on reinstallation than removing the crankset on all inspected bikes is (as had been done before January 2016).

      However… To answers your question (without having looked into it in detail, but purely from what I can say as an engineer)
      1) It would also be quite easy to frustrate: Just put a (half sized?) EPS/Di2 battery on top of the motor and the UCI inspectors would not be able to see the motor ;-)
      2) You would still not find those (alleged?) electro-magical wheels or those (alleged?) tiny hub-motors
      3) You can only do these kinds of manual checks 1) physically up very close to the bike and 2) before the start or after the finish. This leaves the entire race itself open to cheating, by strategically hiding bikes or wheels along the course or in a truck/van. We know this is possible from the “broken Canyon frame at Movistar” and the road side bike changes we all saw Cancellara do. (Not claiming either was cheating by the way, just to illustrated that it’s easily possible to change a bike NOT from the team car in the race)

      Of course, argument 3 also applies to the “UCI tablet tests”: You can not use this detection method to gather evidence WHILE the cheating is going on. It’s like saying: “We don’t need security (camera’s) inside the airport, because we already have passport checks at (only) the main entrance / exit.” …but you forget about all the backdoors and the fence with big holes in it.

      Talking about airports: Both body scanners and luggage scanners do not require large areas to be cleared. Security personnel is standing right besides them working all day. These machines are no larger than a medium sized van. Electricity or generators are always present at events, or otherwise how could TV satellite trucks do their work? But OK, I can certainly imagine these particular solutions are too expensive and possibly not mobile enough.

      I’d still opt for the magnetic tablets at start/finish PLUS the thermal cameras in the race. A couple of thermal camera’s are not that expensive, highly mobile, easily disguised (as journalist camera’s or built into jury cars/motos), can be used at a distance and… during the race (while the cheating is actually going on). You then (virtually) flag the bike and inspect it immediately at the finish. “False positives” are a complete non-argument: If nothing fraudulent is found on further inspection of the flagged bike, no worries!

      Then again, maybe they’re actually already using this combination, but just don’t want everybody to know ;-)

  • J Evans

    ‘“The new scanning method uses a tablet, case, adapter and custom-made software which enable an operator to test a complete bike, wheels,
    frame, groupset and other components in less than a minute,” explained the UCI.’ – Then tag and test every bike, including those used before and after any bike switches (and ban unnecessary bike changes), and any bikes on all cars. How hard can it be to tag bikes so you know who is riding what?
    This is a problem that could be stopped relatively easily.
    Even better: standard UCI powermeters – teams can pay for them, as they pay for powermeters now – with all data given to the authorities (it’s the same for everyone so the riders’/teams’ moaning can be ignored). That would stop motors being used and cars being hung onto.

    • Dave

      If cars (which are far more complex) can be properly scrutinised in even the lower grades of motorsport, it can be done in elite level cycling. The UCI just need to hire the experts from the motorsport world to tell them how.

      Bike changes should be simple to deal with. Have the bikes on the team cars inspected, sealed and transponders attached before the race. Changes of bike from sources other than the team cars or neutral service cars banned. Simples.

  • jules

    the UCI has erred here by treating its detection methods as a public matter and discussing them transparently. while in 99% of cases this is a good thing and the UCI would have been better off adopting this approach to a range of other governance matters it oversees, detection of cheating is an exception.

    you don’t combat cheating by implementing a fool-proof detection method and then proudly tell everyone about it cos there’s nothing they can do to overcome your fool-proof method. the main reason for this is that what people may convince themselves is fool-proof almost always is not.

    rather, you keep people guessing by not disclosing precisely what you are doing. a good example is in developing enhanced testing for EPO. they didn’t say to athletes “look out, we’ve got a better test coming up, you should consider stopping your doping” they just quietly rolled the new test out and caught unsuspecting dopers.

    this is the way to do it, as it scares the shit out of cheats who never know when the testers are going to catch up with them. scaring the shit out of people is a better way of combating cheating than trying to detect every incidence of cheating.

    an example is speed cameras, with govts publishing locations of cameras. this is a ridiculous policy in which politicians try to be half-pregnant “speed is dangerous”, but “I’m still on your side, here are the locations – don’t get angry and vote me out!”. obviously some people just learn where they can and cannot speed to avoid detection.

    • Dave

      WADA (who developed the EPO test) must love the UCI. While the rest of the sporting world laughs behind their back, the UCI makes them look competent!

    • ebbe

      Or… The UCI are smarter than we give them credit for, and this whole “explaining how the magnetic tablets work” thing is a red herring. In the mean time they are secretly using thermal imaging in races as well. They just don’t want everybody to know.

      That’s the way I would do it ;-)

  • claude cat

    I suspect electromagnetic shielding is no more difficult than thermal shielding.

    • Dave

      We’re not talking about shielding from EM waves which are easily shielded (just pick the correct shielding for the waves you want to block) but the magnetic field of the motor.

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    “Nothing to see here folks, we’ve got things all cleaned up now with our capture and punishment of little Femke. Nobody will dare cheat from this point on and our crack detection equipment will surely catch them if they do.”
    Same s__t, different day.


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