The Tour de France is spotting illegal motors on bicycles using thermal cameras in what has become a growing problem in the sport, reported National Public Radio
The small illegal motors used to increase the riders' power levels are believed to have reached riders participating in the highest competitive events, reported NPR. Those concerns peaked in February when Belgian cycling star Femke Van den Driesshe was accused of using a motorized bicycle at the cyclocross World Championships, noted the website Engadget
"This problem is worse than doping," France's Secretary of State for Sports Thierry Braillard told Le Journal du Dimanche about the hidden motors on bicycles, per NPR. "This is the future of cycling that's at stake."
The Union Cycliste Internationale issued a statement
Monday, noting that it has been scanning bicycles for hidden motors since January.
"Since the beginning of the year, we are sending a clear message which is that there is literally no-where to hide for anyone foolish enough to attempt to cheat in this way," said UCI president Brian Cookson.
"A modified bike is extremely easy to detect with our scanners and we will continue to deploy them extensively throughout the tour and the rest of the season," Cookson said.
reported in March that Italy's Corriere della Sera and France's Télévisions Stade 2 conducted their own investigation hiding thermal cameras in television cameras. The media outlets charged that it found seven cyclists using motors in two Italian races.
The UCI statement said it is prepared to conduct up to 4,000 tests on bicycles during the Tour de France to detect hidden motors.
"An effective testing protocol is one which is unpredictable so the UCI confirms that it will deploy additional methods of detection at the tour to both assess their performance and to ensure a varied testing protocol," the UCI stated.
"UCI scanners, as well as being deployed across the UCI calendar, are now available to UCI's member national federations, supported by training from specialist staff," the statement continued.
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