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July 28, 2017
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  • pedr09

    Bluetooth switch installed underneath the handlebar tape

  • David Simons

    If I ever meet her, I’ll happily tell what a cheat she is. And, I’ll probably add a little stronger language to that….. My son is a junior XC racer and he’s getting very good results, but many of the riders in his category have doubts about the results of a couple of the riders… Luckily my son is talented, so he gets a lot of podiums and the occasional first. It really ticks me off that cycling is so full of cheats, every week almost, there’s a story about someone in the peleton getting a ban for doping.

    • flx

      I think you forgot to mention that your son is talented and gets good results.

      • david__g

        I heard his son was talented and gets results? Can anyone confirm? Also, can anyone explain what it has to do with this article?

        • Pete

          Horrible parent syndrome.

          • Dave

            Indeed. I wonder if Mr Simons has ever stolen a budgie from a pet shop?

            • Sean parker

              No but he did good work on ‘The Wire’ so I forgive him his talented, not-doping son.

    • Vlaamse Dunny Bowl

      I hate everyone on this forum.
      This post & responses is confirmation cycling fans are deluded mean and jealous
      … Just like me

    • Steve S

      If you’d do the same if you met the likes of Lance Armstrong, Tyson Gay and Ben Johnson and tell them in strong language what a cheat they are, then good on you. But if you wouldn’t do it to those fellas, but you’d do it to this girl, then that’s bullying, and while I’m glad she was caught and banned there’s been a lot of “picking on an easy target” in this case.

  • Hannes Whitefield

    There are many things I don’t understand about this verdict.
    1 – why has only this girl been punished, and not the rest of her team?
    2 – why the difference with “regular” doping (6 year ban now vs 4 years in other cases)?
    3 – how can it be explained that teams with several former cheats in their ranks are allowed to profit from those former cheats, whereas this amateur (because she really wasn’t much more than that) is now facing a fine of 20,000 Francs?
    In the grand scheme of things Femke is just a small fish (that deserved to be banned), but I hope the UCI will crack down as strongly on the bigger fish. And this verdict is the right moment to push the UCI on that arguably more important issue.

    • ebbe

      1- I’ve heard that there will be more news later about sanctions against the team. Which is intriguing, considering her team is her father, brothers and a few friends that help out preparing and cleaning the bikes. All volunteers, who have no contract and make no money out of this. So I wonder what kind of leverage the UCI thinks they have over volunteers. Or… if we’re talking about the entire Belgian national team (for which she was officially riding the Worlds – so strictly speaking…), then CX has a major problem. What is the UCI going to do then? Ban all Belgians? About 50% of the world’s elite CX riders are Belgian, and the sport (at it’s highest level) is basically only surviving on Belgian money… that would kill CX.
      2- Good questions. Looks like the difference is explained by one word: “hypocrisy”
      3- Again, hypocrisy. Cookson’s non-response to the Stade 2 TV segment provides little hope this will be taken more seriously from now on.

      • Matt DeMaere

        1. That really snowballed into something ludicrous. Not much help at progressing a discussion if everyone approached things in this manner.
        3. The Stade 2 TV segment was horribly carried-out, worthless sensationalism. Probably why it didn’t garner more of a reply than what was already said, that the UCI has a means of detection. If someone wants to do something thorough using infrared, then go ahead.

        • ebbe

          1- you asked about the team, I told you about the team. Don’t want to know? Why ask?
          3- sure, the segment does not prove anything. Or at least the footage they showed the public doesn’t. But the allegations made towards the UCI are grave enough to warrant a serious response. Did you see Cookson face as he watched the footage?

    • Shane Stokes

      Hey Hannes, we haven’t got the full reasoned decision and so perhaps point 1) will change. As for 2), WADA limits doping bans to a maximum of four years (unless it’s a repeat offense) and so the UCI can’t go higher than this. There are no such limitations for motors as it is specific to cycling only. 3) by former cheats, I presume you mean doping cheats. The nature of motor doping is that others on the team must know – ie the mechanics. In contrast, it is possible to take doping products yourself. I believe that’s why there are different rules between motor use and doping.

      • Hannes Whitefield

        Point 1 might change and I sure hope so. Nevertheless, also in this case, doping is not done alone. A better signal would have been going after the whole entourage. Compare this to teams on whose watch a rider dopes (see also below under 3). I think they shouldn’t be able to shift the blame to the rider, unless the team can demonstrate they did everything in their power to prevent doping happening.
        As to point 2: interesting, I didn’t know that. But that would imply that other doping offenses in cycling would normally get the maximum penalty. I don’t think that has been the case. And also, I would expect the UCI to make a statement saying that they would have liked to give EPO, blood transfusions etc. more than 4 years. The UCI didn’t do that.
        Point 3: I actually don’t agree. Certainly from a certain level onwards, also “regular” doping is not done alone. And even if the rider did it alone, that doesn’t imply to me that teams aren’t partially responsible. For instance, they might have created an enabling or non-deterrent environment.
        Which brings me to Dave’s 3rd point with which I agree. What the UCI has done in this case is grilling a small fish in the hope of scaring bigger fish out of using mechanical doping by showing that testing is simple and punishments hard. This might be successfull.
        But what the UCI never dared to do, for whatever reason (and I can think of a few…), is having the same hard and consistent line on regular doping. I would argue that by making clear that cheats have no place in the peloton (in whatever role) and by implementing that teams are responsible for doping cases too, the cycling world might already start becoming a much nicer place.

    • Dave

      1. It remains to be seen as to whether the semi-professional “Kleur op Maat – Nodrugs” team she rode with or the Belgian national team will be sanctioned. Given that her results have been rubbed out as far back as October and include a combination of races she contested for her trade team and national team, I expect we will hear more about that.

      2. I’m looking forward to reading the Reasoned Decision when the UCI release it (probably after any investigation and procedure with regards to the team is complete) as it should include the rationale behind the interesting combination of the minimum possible fine and a quite lengthy suspension.
      The UCI is not a real Criminal Court, so their “fines” are really just fees which allow re-entry to the sport once paid – their regulations even spell out that the consequence of not paying a fine is only for a rider/team licence to be suspended until they do pay it. If she really has retired, it has purely symbolic value as she doesn’t owe the UCI anything.

      3. I have previously said that if the UCI wants to get serious about doping, those who have gotten away with light sanctions in the past should have to sit out at least half of the difference between the sanction they got and the full four years. That includes current riders, former riders who are now working in other team roles, and former riders who now have partial/full ownership of a team having to divest or close up. It would cause a bit of upheaval in the short term, but everyone will quickly realise that the sport can operate just fine without cheats hanging around like a bad smell.

  • ebbe

    So, we still have no facts at all, other then “there was a switch”… OF COURSE there was a switch. Any motor has some type of switch. A hidden switch, a digital switch, one that activates as you start pedalling… There is always a switch somewhere.

    • Dave

      The seat tube motor was named as well, and I’m sure that there will be further details contained in the Reasoned Decision when it is released – most likely after the completion of any processes regarding the Kleur op Maat – Nodrugs team she rode with.

      • ebbe

        She didn’t really “ride with” that team. Basically she wore the sponsor’s outfit, and that’s it. She had her own team (of family and friends volunteering) for everything else. Same as with the Belgian team she merely “represented” by wearing their outfit in Zolder

        I do very much hope you’re right and we get more “real” details soon ;-) I’d be interested not so much for the outcome of this case against Femke (she has quit for good anyway – and maybe that’s for the better), but from a tech perspective as well

        Oh, and you’re right about the Vivax of course. I overlooked that since everybody was already assuming it was a “consumer grade” motor, everybody knows where to get them, that they’re easy to install (I’d even have a go at installing it myself if I felt the need), and the VDD family don’t have the money for these fancy magical motorised magnetised wheels. Interesting to see how the poor sods of the cycling world still have to make do with what they can afford ;-)

  • H.E. Pennypacker

    I hereby move that we start referring to this as “motorbiking.” It captures both the gravity and absurdity of the offense. Accordingly, henceforth the situation should be described thusly: “Femke Van den Dreissche has been banned for six years and stripped of her European and Belgian Under 23 titles for motorbiking.” Someone take care of that on her Wikipedia page, will you? I’m in the middle of taking a deposition.

  • zosim

    A major victory that a young girl is banned whilst former and current cheats evade justice or any form of contrition in the pro peloton. Okay. Sure.

    She deserves the ban and the fine but they should trade the fine she can ill afford and a couple of years of the ban (nobody will sign her after the ban anyway) to get the full story of who knew and who helped. If pro riders can get a 6month ban for confessing all they know about cheating to 7 Tour de France races, surely it’s have to be worth something to get the dirt on the faciliators of this.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      That’s by default on the table in most cases. Normally seen in doping, you can get some leniency if you cooperate with your testimony. How do you know she wasn’t offered to do that?

      In this case she simply may have decided to not contest or make herself available for any further questioning. In legal terms this is called “nolo contendere”, no contest. She doesn’t even really need to pay the fine unless she wants to return to racing.

      Someone previously mentioned this was a bit unethical because her team staff is her family, so it’s understandable she wouldn’t want to trade a reduction in her sanction by giving testimony against them. Or the alleged “friend” that supposedly bought the bike from her and motorized it. And put it in the pits. On the day of the WC.

      Or maybe, like you said, she decided no one will ever sign her again and simply let this fade away. Save herself the fine money, save her family from more embarrassment (maybe they will stay away from pet shops), save herself the train ticket to Switzerland and just let this lie.

      • Dave

        Some of the races she has been retroactively disqualified from were ridden with the semi-professional team “Kleur op Maat – Nodrugs” so there quite possibly could have been some involvement from team personnel other than her family.

    • Dave

      She claims she has retired from the sport, so the fine is just symbolic. The UCI’s own regulations state that the consequence of a fine not being paid is simply that the rider is suspended until they pay it.

      The UCI’s regulations also specify that CHF 20,000 is the minimum fine, so I can’t see it being reduced either.

      She still lives with her father who could well have been the ringleader of it, so I doubt she’ll be too keen about spilling the beans.

      • ebbe

        I just read that she’s now got a job and is planning to pay the fine ;-) Which surprised me given you had already mentioned earlier that there is no real downside to not paying

  • Berne Shaw

    Interesting we call a 19 year old person, when it ia a woman, a young girl when man or woman they can vote, be a soldier and are fully responsible as adults for crimes they commit. and she was a trained elite athlete at the worlds none the less, who already is a well polished liar and thief and who calculated her moves to win secure contracts etc. Yes she had help from what appears to be a family with similar traits. However she made these choices.

    Studies show people are drawn to areas where they calculate the profits are high and the risks of getting caught and the punishment low. Yes cheating in cycling often pays handsomely!!! witness many millionaires who never gave back winnings no fines no jail time. Armstrong 130 million.

    So if we want to eradicate cheating by all means strengthen positive culture by protecting clean riders but do it by not letting of those who cheat with the excuses we give them

  • Robert Merkel

    FWIW I think this is an appropriate outcome for Ms Van den Driessche.

    The more interesting news out of this is the fact it was done using a Vivax.

    If they’d turned up a custom motor setup the question would then have been who was responsible, and whether they had had any dealings with other riders.

    Also, while it”s clear that the UCI’s motor detector can detect a Vivax, this doesn’t provide any confirmation that it’s sufficient to detect something custom built to evade detection.

    • Odd Erling N. Eriksen

      I think it is safe to say that any device powerful enough to be of much use (Say, a few tens of watts should be enough to give you an edge against a competition consisting of people trained as well as you are) will also be detectable.

      Either indirectly (IR photography; EM emissions while in use) or directly (Simply having a look inside the frame using, say, a fibre optic camera or good ol’ fashioned eyeballs).

      If cheating continues unabated, one (pretty drastic!) way out for the UCI if they want to be taken seriously, would be to have them provide the bikes; they could still be assembled to the individual rider’s spec – but be in the custody of the UCI between races, except a bit of (monitored) tune-up time by team mechanics prior to an event.

      Obviously, this approach would only work if one trusted the UCI to be above any skulduggery.

  • jon

    I don’t get how this is worse than other forms of doping. cheating is cheating. I never understood why people can get so worked up about cheating sports-person. it is what it is, just watch the show and laugh it off.

    • sps12321

      For me the difference is that a drug doping offence can (at least in theory) be done alone: individual rider buys drugs, takes drugs (probably with recommendations from a shady doctor).
      But mechanical doping (probably more so in road than in other disciplines) requires team involvement, at least 1 mechanic on the team needs to be aware to set up the bike but likely it goes deeper than a single rider. it is pretty much impossible for the team to claim they were acting alone.
      I feel that the rider may be less a fault in mechanical doping than in drug doping but the team is more at fault.

  • Roger That

    Another week goes by and still no news on the parrots…

  • Dave

    Sounds like a fair result.

    The timing of the sanction announcement is worth a good laugh, coming just as the UCI’s poor handling of the disc brake fiasco is starting to blow up in their face and Brian Cookson got personally called out by two retired riders with twenty World Championship medals and four Olympic medals between them. Pity that the internet has made it so easy to track multiple issues at once.


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