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Zwift bans rider Philipp Diegner for six months for data manipulation

Zwift has banned rider Philipp Diegner after examining his historical data and determining he had altered his data.

Zwift has handed a six-month ban to Canyon Esports team professional racer Philipp Diegner for intentionally altering data submitted for the Zwift Racing League Season 2, Men’s Race No. 3. This ban is retroactive to January 25, 2021, and will be in effect until July 25, 2021. During this period, Diegner can use the platform, however, he is prohibited from competing in sanctioned events.

“The [Zwift] Performance Verification Board considers that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the rider intentionally manipulated their data,” reads the Zwift Performance Verification Board Decision. “Pursuant to Appendix B of the Zwift Cycling Esports Rules and Regulations, the Board has therefore decided that a Tier 3 sanction (‘Bringing the sport into disrepute’ – ‘Fabrication or modification of any data’) shall be applied, and the rider shall receive a six-month suspension from Zwift Cycling Esports events.”

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Zwift found that Diegner had previously submitted altered data on at least four separate occasions: In three races, and also on the calibration test used to validate rider’s in-game performances.

This appears to be the first time Zwift has performed forensic analysis on a rider’s historical data record and taken action based on finding multiple anomalies across several different events, indicating new processes and data analysis tools are being used by Zwift to thwart cheating.

Diegner’s race data from the January event was examined by the Zwift Performance Verification Board after automated audits found irregularities in the data submitted by the racer that was collected by his power meter. Upon analysis of Diegner’s data, Zwift identified that the power values submitted were 2 percent higher than the originally recorded values.

Diegner initially denied allegations of cheating, but later admitted to altering data files on multiple occasions. In identifying multiple instances of cheating, Zwift has as also disqualified Diegner and vacated his results from Zwift Racing League Season 1 and Season 2 — eleven races in total.

Diegner is the first male to be banned from the platform, and the fifth person to be caught cheating in Zwift in the past six months.

Pros competing in Zwift are required to have a smart trainer connected to the game which records a data file on the racer’s computer as well as on the Zwift game servers. Additionally, all racers must have a secondary, external power measurement and recording source that can be used for comparison against the rider’s smart trainer. The trainer and external power measuring device must be calibrated prior to the start of an event, per a series of published protocols. At the conclusion of the event, riders must submit the external data file, without altering it, for analysis.