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by Shane Stokes
February 16, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
Speaking in the wake of the mechanical doping case unearthed at the cyclocross world championships on January 30, CPA (Professional Riders’ Association) president and former world champion Gianni Bugno has said that there is a clear feeling within the peloton that the problem should be strongly tackled.
“It is out of discussion [goes without saying – ed.] that whoever is cheating during competition must be heavily punished,” he said on Monday. “The riders are all in favour of this and they are the first ones to show interest to unmask those who act unfairly, whether they are riders, mechanics, or other team members.”
Rumours of the use of hidden motors in bikes first surfaced in 2010 but the first such case didn’t become clear until the cyclo cross worlds in Belgium.
At the women’s under 23 event a spare bike apparently belonging to European youth champion Femke Van den Driessche was found to contain a motor, leading to a UCI disciplinary commission action being opened up against her.
A hearing in relation to this is expected in the coming weeks.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme recently said he wanted the UCI to prioritise the issue of motors, saying that the issue needs to be tackled before ASO would engage in any talks about cycling’s future reforms.
ASO had previously threatened to remove all of its events, including the Tour de France, from the WorldTour in 2017 due to dissatisfaction with said reforms.
Bugno said he has faith in the UCI and wants everyone to come together to tackle the issue.
“We are convinced that the UCI is doing its best to improve and refine the controls and we hope there will be a progress, with the cooperation of manufacturers, in order to remove any doubt about the athletes’ performances,” he said.
“We, too, within our association, are looking for solutions to make controls the most precise and quick as possible and we know we can count on the full cooperation of the riders.”
The UCI is using magnetic resistance detectors as part of its efforts to catch anyone using motors. UCI president Brian Cookson has said that other measures will be introduced if necessary.
Bugno said that he wanted to be measured in how he spoke about the matter.
“I do not agree to point the finger at the peloton every time that something that puts a bad light on our sport happens,” he explained.
“That is the reason I did not want to join the chorus of those who have launched accusations without proposing solutions to the problem. Indeed, I do not think even we could define this a real problem because it is far away from touching the honest riders that fight daily with their opponents in a sporting way.”