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July 23, 2017
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  • VO2min

    “I watched Eurosport’s version of the [Cancellara] allegations and I was going, okay, there is definitely something there.”

    Perhaps not the intent of the article, but was LeMond calling out Cancellara there, or just referring to the issue in more general terms?

    • Kellen Hassell

      Wondering the same…

    • Burgrat

      LeMond till pissed at Trek perhaps? (even though Spartacus was with CSC at the time)

      • Samaway

        Cancellara’s 2010 Paris Roubaix was with Team Saxo Bank, which had taken over the title sonsporship from CSC in 2009 :)

        • Mark M.

          Cancellara rode a Specialized Roubaix in 2010. It takes a 27.2mm post. The Vivax requires a 31.6mm seat tube. Won’t work if you can’t get it into the frame, eh?

    • Samaway

      Seems like a pretty direct allegation to me…

    • 900Aero

      LeMond would know what he means (and what it means) when he names someone like that. He’s calling out the issue in general and using a rider in particular to make a point. No accident.

  • LeMond is correct. The lethargic responses of past, whether mechanical or physical doping, cannot continue. Teams that are required to lodge an actual financial bond, would be a great start, equivalent to minimum 10-15% of their annual budget, and implications for all the team, whether individual or isolated incident claimed defence, or not.

    Professional Cycling, remains in the toilet. Whether it’s flushed completely or left to fester, remains the responsibility of those with the power.
    It’s time to stop playing games.

    • Dave

      Adapting the purpose of the current bank guarantees required by the UCI should be sufficient. Currently they are only used to secure payment for team personnel (which makes up the majority of a team’s budget at Pro Conti or WorldTeam level) in the event the team falls into insolvency.

      • It seldom works, in “protected team salaries” scenarios. How many times, have we read x team riders unpaid for x months” so riders try claim from UCI – months later, they still wait. Rarely any details published for successful salary recovery, usually reported in the negative. Does not cover team staff, only riders.

  • Mike Williams

    How about just requiring the manufacturer insert a permament plug in the seat tube (close to the BB), so that a motor can’t be inserted, before it is delivered to the teams?

    • Burgrat

      If the motor is retrofitted, they have to open it up anyway and can remove it. According to the CyclingNews podcast, there is a major risk of frame failure if a carbon frame is opened up and a motor installed. I wouldn’t want to try that at Paris-Roubaix or Flanders, but maybe it’s happened. Can you imagine a rider’s bike breaking live on tv with a motor running? That would be awesome! (no injury to the rider of course)

      • From a frame design perspective, it’s not so difficult to build a frame – aluminium or carbon, so that a motor can be inserted via seat tube and isolated or damped, to minimise vibration, and thus potential frame failure.
        I listened to the podcast from cyclingnews – when they discuss the frame “problem” and it’s not a problem. Plenty of ready market carbon frames (UCI approved now) with over engineered bracket sections, that can withstand a motor.

  • Burgrat

    I don’t think they need a $1.5 million x-ray unit to determine if there’s a motor in the down tube. What about a portable dental or medical x-ray unit? Those things aren’t nearly that expensive and can be installed in a motorhome like they do for mobile dental or medical clinics. The field of view does not have to be very large, basically need to see the bottom bracket area and the tubes near that area. Just one tool to help determine the presence of a motor.

    • Robert

      Or, just remove the crank to check? Free and painless. Crank looks normal? Pass. Crank has modifications to facilitate use of a motor? Fail.

      • Shane Stokes

        that doesn’t do anything to check for the wheel electromagnets that Greg refers to above. As the article states, it’s also slow and would make checking large number of bikes very difficult

        • Robert

          While checking cranks wouldn’t catch everything, it’s something that can be done anytime, anywhere, without any specialized equipment. Better than nothing. Slow? I don’t know, how long does it take everyone else to take a crank off? It doesn’t take me very long, and I’m no mechanic.

          And while it wouldn’t catch potential, theoretical wheel-magnet cheaters, it WOULD catch the kind of cheater we know exists as of a couple weeks ago.

          • Shane Stokes

            Again, the points made by Greg LeMond in the article were that a widespread system of testing is needed. I agree that looking inside the bottom bracket area is better than nothing at all, but it’s not practical when testing the number of bikes that he advocates. Hence the recommendations he makes above.

          • Ant

            If it takes 5 min per bike to get it in the stand, remove the crank, have a look, replace the crank, and then get it out of the stand, times 120 riders in a race, that’s 10 hours to test every bike, i.e. too slow!

            • Robert

              The beauty of random testing is that you don’t have to test everyone, every time. Test 10% every stage, or 20% per one-day race.

              • Dave

                So long as there is at least one full team randomly selected for each day and the full team of the stage/race winner, in addition to random riders.

                • A

                  Yep. Common sense really. A simple solution is not necessarily wrong.

              • Ant

                Robert, the point Lemond was making is that random testing is not good enough. His idea was to test every bike in every race with a high-throughput scanner. That way, you avoid the “will I get caught” mentality that comes with random tests, and you stamp it out altogether. The sorts of costs he’s talking about are not crazy. In big races, I imagine, the budget could fairly easily accommodate a $1.5M machine plus the person-hours required to do the testing, so long as the process is super-fast.

            • A

              Mate, of course you don’t need to test every bike…

          • A

            Yep. Just check random sample plus top three and anyone suspicious. No big deal.

        • Karl

          Shane, I am very sceptical of the the supposed wheel/frame motor idea. A magnetic field decays logarithmically which is why the clearance in an electric motor between the rotor and stator is less than a mm. Any motor set up between wheel and frame would be horrrendously inefficient due to the clearance between the frame and wheel magnets. That said, I couldn’t agree more that the UCI needs an automated mobile scanner to provide the confidence in a clean sport (at least in regards to bikes and motors) that the public rightly demands.

          As an aside, after Greg’s display at last year’s TDF and the random (if insufficient) testing that the UCI were doing I didn’t think anyone would be dumb enough to risk being caught. Then again she does come from a family of dopers and alleged budgie smugglers.

          Your writting on this topic and doping/cheating in general is a credit to you and CT.

          • Dave

            I agree that the wheel-motor idea would be too inefficient and cumbersome to be of any use – plus being even more easily detected just for good measure. I can understand CT’s not wanting to be the only cycling outlet not to cover it – but I hope they held their nose when they did, because they were following the lead of the notorious sensationalist tabloid La Gazzetta dello Sport.

            I’m pretty confident in the UCI’s existing method of looking for the motor’s magnetic field – it’s portable (i.e. apparently hand held, and attached to a tablet computer) enough that it doesn’t need any specialised infrastructure (e.g. a caravan) and can be taken to another race in a commissaire’s hand luggage. An x-ray machine is overkill and impractical for the 21st century when there are multiple UCI races running simultaneously on different continents – how well, for example, would it cope with the abuse of the daily transfers in a grand tour?

            Another advancement that could be of use would be working with the manufacturers to make bottom bracket shells that allow for simpler manual inspection. Cooperation should be easy to come by, as none of them would want to be named and shamed in a future moto-doping scandal.

          • Shane Stokes

            Hi Karl, thanks for that – appreciate the comment!

        • donncha

          Aren’t the wheel electromagnets just a way of generating current? You still need a motor to drive the cranks? Or have I got it all wrong?

          • Dave

            No, using one to generate the current for the other is just an electromagnetic version of blowing your own sail.

            The idea is that a magnets in the wheel (and coils in the stays where the wheel rim passes close) would turn the wheel itself into the rotating component of the motor. The wheel would be driven directly, instead of having a ‘conventional’ motor inside the frame and geared to the crankshaft.

            My opinion on the wheel-motor issue is that it would be too cumbersome and inefficient to be of any use. Just for good measure, it would also be even easier to detect – simply run a piece of steel along the outside of the wheel rim and see if it sticks.

        • A

          Inefficient without considering that the airgap is too large.

          Any engineer could tell you that.

    • jacob

      No X-ray! Magnetic field sensor is fine! The sensitivity of even what comes on your cell phone would easily detect the strong magnets which are required to make a motor. Sure, Lemond was right that mechanical doping is something to test for but his recommended methods are not more effective and way more expensive, complicated, and potentially dangerous. The cost of the machine is 1.5 million, but then the transport, labor, and technician salary? Thermal imaging is a little better in terms of price, but the frame stress will create enough heat that could be a mask for displaced or insulated motor heat. The various paints could interfere with thermal imaging as well. It’s good to have a little anger to elicit change, but he should really consult with a physist before taking to the national stage with suggestions rather than trusting the a sales pitch of a x-ray company rep.

  • Robert

    Penalty: lifetime ban.

    Why should anything less be accepted?

    • Tim Rowe

      Sure. But if we’re going to use such extremes in this case, the lifetime ban needs to be against the Belgian federation. Seems only fair.

      People need to step back and look at how utterly ridiculous the claims for lifetime bans in these circumstances are, especially when the rules are written as they are. In this case we have a situation where there is no proof the bike was used, there is a statement from the rider claiming it’s not their bike, we have no statements whatsoever from the mechanics or team who are ultimately responsible for the riders in their team disputing this claim, nor providing any information whatsoever – and based solely on that very tenuous evidence at best, people are screaming for a lifetime ban? Let’s get realistic people. That’s the equivalent of an intent to distribute charge against the rider if drugs were found in a car being driven by a team mechanic. It’s reaching so far beyond reasonable it’s hard to know how this is still going on.

      How people can be shouting for lifetime bans against *the rider* in this case when the national federation as the team are responsible for the action of riders is absolutely nuts. Yet in the same place you’re happy to claim teams should be banned for the sport for various offences.

  • Andy Galloway

    Totally agree with the sentiments regarding bike changes – it’s become ridiculous – it’s now a strategy.

    • Tim Rowe

      One race, one bike. That should include stage races. Even the idea that specific TT bikes are permitted in stage races is absolutely nuts. Riders should utilize one bike that best suits what they’re going to try to achieve in that race as a whole.

  • Michael K

    Shane, can you please clarify the comment made about Fabian? One one reading he is calling him out as having a motor. I’m no legal expert but that could very easily be a defamatory comment. Let’s remember you published it.

    Possible legal issue aside I can’t believe you could print that without a follow up question and answer about exactly what he meant.

    • MattF

      Their has been widespread denial and scepticism in recent years about the existence of electric motors in pro cycling. A form of omertà perhaps. The riders themselves, team managers, the UCI (initially), selected journalists and many ‘fans’ have labeled the story a science fiction conspiracy theory. It’s not – clearly. Whilst it’s unfortunate that one of the sport’s modern legends is having past performances questioned we, as fans of the sport, have every right to be highly sceptical.

  • VerticallyCompliant

    I’m almost certain you could x-ray test the bikes for a small fraction of the 1.5mil LeMond has been quoted. This would be the price for something akin to a portable CT scanner gaining high resolution imaging of the entire bike – we don’t need to see frame cracks or carbon layup.
    With one standard basic x-ray projection centred through the bottom bracket area you would rule out most forms of ‘mechanical doping’ (I still hate that term. A yacht with a motor would be labeled a cheat not a doper).
    Within 90 mins you would be able to test and tag an entire peloton worth of bikes. Then each morning of a big race you would just get an expert to look over the new yellow/green/polka dot bikes that arrive and a trained eye could quickly tag them on location.
    Lemond is right, taking it serious is the first step. It’s a shame in a way it was Belgium that cheated because they are too big in the cross world to fail.
    A smaller country/team would be expelled.

    • sl149q

      An entire peloton worth of bikes is 200*2 plus spares.

      You’ll need two testing setups. One for the “peloton” to pass through. Another for the team cars with the hot spares on the roof to pass through.

    • A

      Basically you just hand x-ray the frame using a device similar to what is used by your dentist. The problem is that it is still expensive and there are regulations for it’s use. It would cost a lot but it is feasible.

  • dypeterc

    Airport x-ray machine. Portable and could be transported in a van. High throughput. Able to check entire frames and wheels.

  • racyrich

    You don’t need x ray machines. At the start of the season weigh each size of each teams’s bikes, without wheels. Any difference of more than say 500g from those benchmark figures and a more serious investigation starts.

    • Sean

      don’t be stupid, thats too simple.

  • sl149q

    At a guess…. for any of the Grand Tour’s this would require a staff roughly proportional to the number of team mechanics already present. It is already tough for the team mechanics to get the bikes prepped for the next day. Without eating into that schedule would mean enough people available to work more or less on site with all existing team mechanics and do the testing in parallel. Say two people per team, twenty teams. About forty testers, say about a half dozen supervisors. Room, board, four weeks wages. Sure this is not going to be a problem at all. I’m sure the tour organizers can pay out of their slush fund.

    • Dave

      I don’t think having someone standing over every mechanic’s shoulder is the answer.

      My calculation is you would need no more than 5-6 people in total. Before the race, four of them would form a checkpoint prior to sign on where they would run the magnetic field scanners over the bikes and interrogate the transponder, while the other two would supervise and stand by ready to conduct a full inspection if the magnetic field scanner gets a hit. Using a bespoke app on a tablet and a transponder reader plugged in, that should take no longer than 20 seconds each, allowing a field of ~180 riders to be scanned in 15 minutes. During the race a couple of them would ride in the commissaires’ cars to assist in tracking bike changes while the others would head to the finish line ready to scan those bikes which were swapped on the way.

      It would be dependent on requiring transponders and race numbers be attached to every bike (and team car – to verify when a bike is on the car or being ridden) instead of just the one each rider uses to start the race, and also on riders being required to present their bike at the finish if they changed bikes along the way, but both of these are simple rule changes which would go through easily.

  • James Mason

    Hold the manufacturer of the bike responsible. They’re not the ones installing the motors, but they do have serious financial skin in the game. If a representative of the manufacturer is there to make sure the company is represented correctly that’s a set of eyes very close to the action.

    • A

      James that sure does seem like a highly feasible idea and would work great in Olympic, Amateur, Women’s Cycling and anywhere outside of the top few teams in the pro tour…

      • James Mason

        How many teams rode Specialized in the last Tour? Three? I guarantee you Mike Sinyard is concerned about the image of his bikes.

        • A

          Oh I am agreeing with you James. Great insightful point about Mick Sinyard. And I can really see this wonderful idea as being successful across all levels of cycling, not just at the Tour de France.

        • HumanTips

          Hope you get poked against your will by white trash one day. You disgusting human.

          • tdf2000

            Wowies. What filth person.

  • David Bonnett

    Slight digression but since we are talking about how it would be possible to install and check for crank driven cheating: Given that you can measure power from the hub, what is to stop someone from “reversing” the design and adding power via the cassette? It may be more difficult to engineer but also harder to detect since most of that portion of the drivetrain is metal.

    • Dave

      I would not expect hub motors to be much of a starter. They would be way too easy to detect, simply by looking for any rear hub that’s larger than it should be.

      Power meters in the hub work because they only need a very small battery. To run a motor there would require wiring running back to the battery.

      • David Bonnett

        And if they disguised it as a power meter?

        • Sean

          wire battery would still be a give-away.

          • Dave

            In addition to the difference between a motor and a power meter being really easy to detect, plus the fact that everyone using a power meter for racing has them on the pedals or cranks.

            But if this is what it takes to get power meters banned from racing, I’m all for it. Let the advantage go to the rider who knows their body instead.

        • Mark M.

          Power meters (PowerTap hubs) run off CR2032 watch batteries. Not exactly going to get much output from that battery.

    • Alex L

      Power meters in hubs work by measuring the strain (stresses) in the hub due to applied forces (pedalling). You can’t reverse a strain gauge and make it in to a motor. Power meters in general are very compact units – the largest part of them is the microprocessor and battery required to transmit the data to a head unit.

      • David Bonnett

        This is why I stick to software ;-) I don’t pretend to know the details of the motors being discussed or their form factors so I’ll stop while I’m behind.

  • martin

    Seems like a good reason to lower the UCI weight limit.

  • Berne Shaw

    We are finally to time where one of our truly honest and courageous champions who weathered the ferocious slander making him out to be incorrectly negative when the real story is he has a learning disability and has a bit of trouble speaking but is a bright and insightful person with allot to help us with cycling. Finally we listen to whistleblowers and don’t shoot them.

    Greg is right. No he isn’t saying Cancellara did anything specifically. He is saying innocent riders need protection from the guilty and the guilty need to be caught and tossed. Thank you for caring Greg!

  • Alex L

    As alluded to below, the biggest problem with Greg’s or any other blanket testing regime is applying it to smaller races, races being run at concurrently and stage races that move location constantly. Any blanket testing regime will require significant time and resources, and be able to be operated across 2-3 or more concurrent races on different continents.

    To me it still seems relatively unlikely that a WT team is going to be using motors in bikes for a GC contender or climbing specialist – The riders know each other too well in general and the stakes are too high if anyone is caught.
    I think there’s a bigger risk at smaller races and lower level teams. The risk/benefit ratio is higher. Rider abilities are less well known so they can surprise with unexpected performances. The race organisers don’t have the resources that the bigger budget races do.

    But I think the biggest risk are in standalone events – Olympics, World and National Championships. As already demonstrated, one young and relatively unknown rider is more likely to take a risk and cheat – without the backing of a team but through a close knit mechanic crew. These events are also some of the highest stake events for young or less well known riders to get their name on a board.

    Regarding the testing and discovery of motors – there was a suggestion in one of Shane’s previous articles that the motor found in Femke’s bike was after a tip off (??). This me seems to be pretty important part of the picture – people who suspect something and can report irregularities to the authorities. So long as that information is then acted on.

  • mkurita

    If the cyclist stipulates that they didn’t know the motor was there, then specifically, they never turned the motor on. Therefore, they never took advantage of it and didn’t “mechanically dope”. I hope the UCI has evidence of the motor in use (video recording using a FLIR camera), because without that I’m not sure they can prove that the technology was actually used during the race. WIthout the video recording with a FLIR camera, they could disqualify her for using a non-UCI approved bike for the specific race, but beyond that I’m not sure how much of a leg they have to stand on.

    • Cris Doyle

      The mere presence of an illegally-powered machine within the area of the race is the offence. It is not necessary to prove it was used. Here’s the actual regulation:

      Technological fraud

      12.1.013bis Technological fraud is an infringement to article 1.3.010.

      Technological fraud is materialised by:
      ? The presence, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010.
      ? The use by a rider, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010.
      All teams must ensure that all their bicycles are in compliance with the provisions of article 1.3.010. Any presence of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, constitutes a technological fraud by the team and the rider.
      All riders must ensure that any bicycle that they use is in compliance with the provisions of article 1.3.010. Any use by a rider of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, constitutes a technological fraud by the team and the rider.
      Any technological fraud shall be sanctioned as follows:
      1. Rider: disqualification, suspension of a minimum of six months and a fine of between CHF 20’000 and CHF 200’000.
      2. Team: disqualification, suspension of a minimum of six months and a fine of between CHF 100’000 and CHF 1’000’000.
      (article introduced on 30.01.15)

      • mkurita

        The crux of the problem lies in the sanction – there is a range provided, which means that with a lower penalty, there must be doubt that exists to provide that lower penalty. IF she took a TAXI to the finish line (like the New York marathon taxi cheater), the proof that she cheated would be high so the maximum sanction can be applied.
        So my point is, I hope the UCI has evidence greater than “she has a motor in her bike” – they need to add “and we have evidence that she used it” to apply the maximum sanction.
        This issue also exposes problems with the current sanctions around drugs in the sport. TUEs should be ended: racing means you have to deal with your physiological limits. Saddle sore? Asthma? Produce less testosterone than “normal”? Sucks to be you – you better find a way to get someone else across the finish line. Otherwise, you are creating an argument that athletes who are genetically gifted should be forced to use a handicap (as in horse racing), to normalize the results.
        Ban an athlete for x amount of years for drug use or tech use? Do it the same for all.

  • Brendan Marshall

    they require everyone to sign on before the race, why not make them sign on while you run the bike through a big x-ray machine ( no bike changes on the way to the line), video it and then have someone go over the x-rays during the race, anything suspicious could be dealt with as riders finish and bikes are taken away for checking.

  • Rufus Cornpone

    IMHO, I think they should impound the top 20 finishers across the stage finish line immediately and the top 10 in points after each stage whether they finished in the top 20 or not. Also any bike changes ( and wheels now, according to LeMond) during the race should be flagged for inspection.

  • Beautiful Bike

    So many great riders coming up. Such a great,worldwide sport. Pro cycling would survive fully transparent testing protocols. Greg’s argument is solid.


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