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Tour de France

Tour de France: UCI says it carried out over 700 tests for mechanical doping

Governing body says no signs of hidden motors have been detected.

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The UCI has said that it has not detected any signs of mechanical doping at this year’s Tour de France, issuing a breakdown of the testing it has done across the 15 stages completed so far.

The governing body released the statistics Monday on the third rest day of the race, saying that it had carried out a total of 712 checks on bikes, taken both before and after stages.

It said that 593 pre-stage checks were done using magnetic tablets, with 119 post-stage examinations using X-ray technology. According to the sport’s governing body, all tests were negative.

“The UCI recalls that tests are carried out at the end of each day on the bikes used by the stage winner, the riders wearing the various leader’s jerseys, three or four riders selected at random and riders who give rise to suspicion, for example following the pre-stage scan, an abnormally high number of bike changes or other incidents noted by the UCI Video Commissaire,” it said.

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Mechanical doping, or technological fraud, as it is called by the UCI, first came to widespread attention when a bike to be used by the Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche during the 2016 cyclocross world championships was found to contain a hidden motor.

The former under 23 European champion title and under 23 Belgian champion was stripped of those two titles, banned for six years and also ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs.

Rumors and accusations of mechanical doping had existed before and after the Van den Driessche case, but no other high profile rider has been found guilty of using such motors.

The UCI carried out 1,008 checks during last year’s Tour de France, also without any positive tests.

It said prior to this year’s race that its testing and control team will use three different tools, namely magnetic tablets, a mobile X-Ray cabinet, plus portable devices using backscatter and transmission technologies.

Prior to the race the UCI said that “before each of the 21 stages, a UCI Technical Commissaire will be at the team buses to check all bikes being ridden at the start of that day’s stage.”

It is not clear if the statement was mistranslated but the suggestion that all bikes would be tested each day doesn’t square with the statistics released on Monday. 593 tests over 15 stages averages out at 39.5 bikes per stage. 176 riders started the race.

Speaking on Monday, the UCI’s head of road and innovation Michael Rogers said that the checks will continue until the final stage in Paris. “It is fundamental to the UCI that the integrity of cycling competitions is assured,” he stated in a UCI media release on Monday.

“The comprehensive and effective anti-fraud technological arsenal implemented for the 2022 Tour de France plays an important role in this regard.

“Bike testing at the 2022 Tour de France will continue over the last six stages at the same pace as during the first two weeks of competition.”