AIGLE, Switzerland — There were no cases of riders using hidden motors inside their bikes on this year’s Tour de France, following extensive testing by the International Cycling Union.
In a statement Wednesday, the UCI said that 3,773 tests “using magnetic resistance technology” were carried out unannounced “prior, during or after racing, throughout the 21 stages of the (race)” and that they all came back negative.
“This demonstrates our absolute commitment to leave no stone unturned in a matter that, if not tackled properly, could seriously damage the renewed reputation of cycling,” UCI president Brian Cookson said. “We will continue to test bikes heavily throughout the rest of the season, and do everything in our power to make sure this form of cheating stays out of our sport.”
A magnetic resistance test is carried out with a tablet computer using software to scan a bike.
It can detect motors, magnets and batteries in a bicycle’s frame, wheel hubs and rims in less than 30 seconds.
This testing led to cyclo-cross rider Femke Van Den Driessche of Belgium being caught using a hidden motor at a world championship race. She was banned from cycling for six years in April.
To ensure a varied testing protocol at this year’s Tour, the UCI also used supplementary methods of detection, such as high-powered thermal cameras using atomic research technology, and X-rays.
Thermal cameras help detect the heat produced by a small hidden motor, even if the motor is turned off. The clamor for using them grew after French television program Stade 2 claimed to have detected so-called `mechanical doping’ at two Italian races by using roadside thermal cameras.
The UCI said these additional tests backed up the results obtained using magnetic resistance technology, while Cookson praised Tour organizers and the French police for their assistance.