The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has confirmed that it conducted rigorous testing during the 2019 Giro d’Italia as part of the fight against technological fraud, sometimes referred to as ‘mechanical doping’. The tests were carried out using magnetic scanning and X-ray technologies – testing bikes before and after each stage, throughout the three weeks of competition. UCI notes that ‘all the tests came back negative’.
A total of 1,312 tests were conducted using magnetic scanning technology at the start of the stages.
At the end of stages, 113 tests were carried out using X-ray technology. Since its introduction in 2018, this method has been designed to validate riders’ performances. Between 4 and 12 bikes were tested on each stage, including those of the stage winner and the pink jersey holder.
Furthermore, the UCI is continuing to develop, in partnership with the Department of Technological Research at CEA Tech (French Atomic and Alternative Energies Commission), a tracker that can be fitted on every bike in the peloton and can detect hidden motors at any point during a race.
A first test phase, carried out at the Tour de France 2018 in collaboration with a number of teams, has demonstrated the feasibility of the method, which can detect hidden operating motors. The current phase involves identifying an industrial partner in charge of manufacturing the trackers with the introduction of a first version considered for 2020.
Further enhancing the drive against technological fraud are the improvements made to magnetic scanning tablets, which will result in new a version, easily deployed by national federations. This is said to be ‘an agile and fast tool in the fight against technological fraud: more powerful scanning, more intuitive images, and [with] low cost’. The aim is for a first version of the tablets to be in use in 2020.
“Since last year, we have at our disposal a robust set of methods to counter the risks of technological fraud that allows us to check bikes at the start and finish lines,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “Research projects are continuing and shall enable us to be equipped with new technologies that can monitor equipment anytime during the competitions. We’re aiming to ensure that the cycling community has confidence in the performances of our athletes.”