The latest controversy to cause a stir in the cycling world was the find of motor inside Femke Van Den Driessche’s bike at the Cyclo-cross World Championship race at Zolder.
After the U-23 race, Van Driessche’s bike was taken away by UCI officials and they found the motor which would have aided her in the race.
Once the race had finished the 19-year-old spoke about the issue, Van Driessche maintained she didn’t know how the motor got inside her bike, saying: “I didn’t know anything about it. I don’t know how that bike got there. I was surprised to see that bike standing there. It’s not my bike. There’s been a mistake.”
“They can check everything: my entire cross bikes, all my road bikes. They will not find anything. I’m 100 per cent sure about it.”
It is hard to believe Van Driessche didn’t know anything about her bike not being messed around and that a motor was concealed in the frame – but what this incident does do, is it opens up another can of worms which cycling just doesn’t need.
Doping has already harmed the sport I and many others love so much, the Festina episode in 1998 was one that many people thought would never be eclipsed, but then Lance Armstrong surpassed that with the most ‘sophisticated and professional doping regime the sport had ever seen’.
But now with this motorised doping scandal, another new phenomenon could be hitting the sport exactly when the sport is trying to get straight and send out a message to the wider sporting audience that cycling is not what it used to be in the past.
It’s tough to take for the 19-year-old, she is awfully young to be going through something like this, and if it’s the case that she wasn’t directly involved in putting the motor inside her bike – the UCI have to work hard to find the culprit.
The rider has said herself that her career might be over as soon as it has begun.
The wider ramifications of this could be huge, if it is happening in Cyclo-cross, is it happening in the pro-peloton?
It’s a question that needs to be asked. And the UCI and in particular Brian Cookson have to make sure they crack down on it before more higher profile riders resort to using such techniques to gain an advantage.
Cycling fans might take some heart from Chris Froome’s latest comments on the matter, speaking ahead of the Herald Sun Tour, he said: “Over the last couple of seasons, my bike has been checked and dismantled at least a dozen times.”
It good to hear that the current Tour De France holder, and two-time winner of the race spoke about his experience with motorised doping – it’s heartening for me to hear probably the biggest star in the sport at the moment talk about the issue, that is only going to rumble on after the discovery.
What can be done about the issue?
I suppose the answer is pretty simple: more checks need to be made to ensure riders are not using illegal techniques to gain an advantage.
But getting the manpower and then trying to eek out the culprits is an extremely tough job, but the UCI might have to put this new craze at the top and level on par with trying to catch the dopers – because if they don’t we could see more stories like this emanating from the sport we love.
What do you think about motorised doping, add your comments below.
About the Author: Michael Stokoe is a second year Sport Journalism student studying at the University of Brighton, with aspirations of making a successful career in the world of Sport media. Michael is a lover of all sports, but his big passions are Cycling and Football. He also has a soft spot for other sports such Boxing and UFC – oh and by the way Michael is a huge reader, of anything sports and his collection of books is well over 50 now, a modest number but he´s getting there.