Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Disciplinary Commission of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has issued Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Dreissche (pictured) with a six-year ban after discovering a concealed electric motor in her bike during the women’s U23 Cyclo-Cross World Championships in February. ‘This decision follows the discovery of a concealed electric motor in one of the rider’s bikes during checks at the Women Under 23 race of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in January 2016’, read the UCI’s decision (PDF below). ‘The bike concerned was scanned using the new magnetic resonance testing deployed this year by the UCI. This detected the motor whilst the bike was in the rider’s pit area. The motor was a Vivax which was concealed along with a battery in the seat-tube. It was controlled by a Bluetooth switch installed underneath the handlebar tape.’
Although the motor wasn’t detected until February this year, Van den Dreissche’s results have been annulled from 11 October 2015 until 10 October 2021. This allows the UCI to remove her victory in the 2015 European Cyclo-Cross Championships, which took place in November. ‘As a consequence of her suspension, all competitive results achieved by Ms Femke Van den Driessche from and inclusive October 11, 2015, shall be disqualified’, reads the UCI decision. ‘Her name and results shall be removed from the concerned ranking lists and Ms Femke Van den Driessche shall no longer hold any corresponding title (notably U23 European Champion title and Under 23 Belgian Champion title)’. It is not yet known if Van den Dreissche plans to contest this part of the ruling, as the UCI’s full, reasoned decision is not yet available.
Given her European Cyclo-Cross Championships title, Van den Dreissche was a favourite to win at the U23 World Championships in February, however she failed to finish. She initially said there had been a mistake. “The bike wasn’t mine, I would never cheat”, she told Sporza. “The bike belongs to a friend of mine. He bought it from me after last season, and it is exactly the same bike that I would ride. The friend explored the trail with my brother and had the bike put on the truck. A mechanic must have thought it was my bike, cleaned it and taken it away.”
Later, she decided not to contest the UCI hearing. “I have decided for myself to stop cyclo-cross”, Van Den Driessche said in a statement reported by The Guardian. “The costs of the meeting in Switzerland will be too high for me. An acquittal is impossible – the bike was in my pit zone.”
Van den Dreissche was also fined CHF20,000 (€18,000) by the UCI for breaching Article 12.1.013bis (highlighted in red), which was added to its Regulations on 30 January 2015. ‘All teams must ensure that all their bicycles are in compliance with the provisions of article 1.3.010’, it reads. ‘Any presence of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, constitutes a technological fraud by the team and the rider. All riders must ensure that any bicycle that they use is in compliance with the provisions of article 1.3.010. Any use by a rider of a bicycle that does not comply with the provisions of article 1.3.010, within or on the margins of a cycling competition, constitutes a technological fraud by the team and the rider.’
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