Responding to the charges that one of her bikes at the world cyclocross championship contained a motor, Femke Van den Driessche has insisted she is innocent.
“It’s not my bike. There’s been a mistake,” the Belgian rider told Sporza, speaking emotionally.
“After my chain breakage I moved away and then they said that there was something wrong with my bike. I did not know what was going on. Then I saw that bike standing there. I do not know how it got there, I am busy with myself on such a day.”
According to Van den Driessche’s version of things, she used to own the bike but no longer does so.
“That bike belongs to a friend of mine. He bought it from me after last season, it’s exactly the same bike as I use. That friend explored the course with my brother and had the bike against the truck. One of my mechanics must have thought that it was my bike and had it cleaned and taken.
“That boy will sometimes train with me or with my brothers, but I never knew that there was a motor in the bike. He never told me. It’s all a mistake and I’m really badly scared. I feel very bad.”
The news of a possible concealed motor emerged after her under 23 race on Saturday. UCI President Brian Cookson then confirmed the situation in a press conference on Sunday. “It was a concealed motor. No secrets about that,” he stated.
The UCI will continue investigating the case and a disciplinary hearing will be held.
“I would never cheat”
For Van den Driessche to be believed, the panel will have to accept her version of things: namely, that she sold a machine to someone who then put a motor in it, and who then accidentally left it where her mechanics would see it and mistakenly take it to the race.
That would be a remarkable sequence of events; she admits that it doesn’t look good.
“It’s not nice when you are accused like that,” she responded. “But I would never cheat. I really like cycling and I love my sport, but I realize that I am in very big problem now.”
She accepts that she might not be able to race again. “This is all very hard. I do a lot for my sport. I’ve always peaked at the championships, I really lived for it.
“Now I think my career is over. All I hope for is a second chance. I’m not afraid of the investigations.”
Learning that the Belgian coach Rudy De Bie has said that his working relationship with her is at an end, she said that she is disappointed by the reaction.
“I am sorry that he considers that right away. I have not had time to talk to him…that’s very difficult.
“I have done nothing wrong. If I already used such a bike, then I would have had a more consistent season.”
At this point in time she knows the story will rumble on but that the final verdict will likely take some time.
“The UCI has told us that they will investigate the matter and that we should wait and see. Currently I have no desire to race.”