Zwift bans two riders from top races for falsifying data

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Zwift has sanctioned two riders for six months each after the online riding platform determined that both fabricated or modified their racing data, “bringing the sport into disrepute.”

Lizi Duncombe and Shanni Berger will not be allowed to race in Zwift Esports events until their six-month bans are up. They can continue to use Zwift, as long as they’re not racing in an official Esports event. Duncombe’s sanction began September 20 and will end March 20, 2021 and Berger’s sanction began August 18 and will lift February 18, 2021.

Zwift has sanctioned athletes in the past for a variety of discretions. In 2019, Cameron Jeffers was sanctioned for illicitly gaining access to the platform’s Tron bike.

Zwift polices its own events for various forms of cheating, much in the same way that the World Anti-Doping Agency is tasked with detecting doping in outdoor racing. Decisions are handed down by the Zwift Performance Verification Board.

In the case of both Duncombe and Berger, the Verification Board determined that efforts had been made to modify power data. Esports events often require dual recording of power – from a trainer and a power meter, for example – and the Verification Board uses both files to determine if any cheating has occurred.

In Duncombe’s case, the details of which are posted by Zwift, it appears the rider initially failed to provide a second power file, sending only her warm-up file. A second power file was later provided, showing a discrepancy of approximately 1% from the first file. That is well within a normal range.

However, among other anomalies, the second file contained a “Version ID” label of “562.” This number is given to FIT files produced by Zwift. FIT files produced by a Garmin Edge 820 use a value of “1250.” This indicates that Duncombe tried to pass off a modified copy of her first power file as a second, corroborating power file.

Berger’s case is similar. The Verification Board’s decision has also been posted by Zwift and centers again on a modification of her power file, this time to indicate that her power had come from a trainer when in fact it had come from a power meter.

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