Report suggests UCI is seeking a heavy penalty against Femke Van den Driessche after a concealed electric motor was found in her bike

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Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports that the UCI is looking for a stiff sanction against Femke Van den Driessche, whose bike was found to contain a hidden motor at the 2016 Cyclo-cross World Championships in January.

Van den Driessche will appear before a UCI Disciplinary Commission hearing next week in Aigle, Switzerland. The 19-year-old Belgian may be hit with a lifetime ban and a €50,000 fine if the UCI’s reported recommendation is followed.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, Van den Driessche’s lawyers are disputing the length of the proposed ban, pointing out that it is a first offence and saying: “We want a fair chance, not a sham trial”. However, it is possible that the UCI will use this first instance of someone being caught ‘mechanical doping’ as an example to deter others.

>>> Everything you need to know about the motorised doping scandal

UCI inspectors found a hidden electric motor in the frame of a bike intended for use by Van den Driessche at the ‘Cross Worlds in Belgium. Van den Driessche and her family claimed that the bike actually belonged to a friend, and was placed in the pits by accident.

Former Belgian professional Nico Van Muylder subsequently told Belgian press that the bike was his.

Since finding a motor in a bike at the ‘Cross Worlds, the UCI has stepped up checks at all events and introduced new equipment to detect motors.

“The UCI has invested considerable time and financial resources in this area and trialling new methods of detection is part of its commitment to ensuring its tests are as robust as possible,” said a UCI statement on February 12.

“Intelligence has also been gained from active engagement with the industry and other information given to us which has enabled us to refine and improve our testing.

“The UCI will continue to test significant numbers of bikes in unannounced tests in all disciplines throughout 2016 and beyond.”

  • Yes but regular doping benefits can last years and way past a two year ban.

  • Chuck6421

    Certainly doesn’t make up for crappy bike handling skills.

  • SonOfaGun

    Has that got three letters?

  • Seth Elliott

    Compassion?

  • SonOfaGun

    Your _ _ _ is showing.

  • SonOfaGun

    The cheats of cycling are all over these comments, blatantly they defend a fellow cheat caught with a hidden motor in her frame.

  • Christopher Richards

    I agree. How is a 19 year old supposed to come up with that money?

  • sola scientia

    If there are no penalties, and it’s so easy, then why aren’t you doping your way to certain success?

  • David Phillips

    ‘The actions of the rest of her family have no bearing at all…’ except for her dad being in the pits.
    ‘How has she ruined other peoples careers? She didn’t win the race…’ She has won other races and so took a place in the WC’ships that could have otherwise been given to a non cheat.

  • David Phillips

    Maths teacher not English 🙂

  • Seth Elliott

    Innocent until proven guilty. The pitchfork madness around this is shocking to me.

  • SonOfaGun

    They accidently forgot her bike had an electric motor hidden inside. She should be banned once for cheating, and twice for the insolency of denying it.

  • SonOfaGun

    Sport is so corrupt with cheating because they can make millions through doping fraud and there are no penalties, at most an uncomfortable press conference. If you dope, pay back ill gotten gains and have a life ban. Go play another sport, there are thousands who will fill your boots.

  • grizzman

    Yes, age does make a difference, just like in the criminal courts… Young sports people can be manipulated by teams (and sponsors) under pressure to do well…. If it was your 19 year old daughter you may think of it differently…

  • Seth Elliott

    And others are being cynical in the extreme. I hope she gets a fair hearing and is not made a pariah solely because the UCI wants to be seen as cracking down or justifying their historical stance on mechanical doping.

  • grizzman

    How has she ruined other peoples careers? She didn’t win the race…. it’s not even clear from this article if she used the bike. My point is that she isn’t 100% responsible…. The actions of the rest of her family have no bearing at all…

  • Iain Macfarlane

    If you’re going to quote your old maths teacher then it should be “dire consequences” not “dia consequences”.

  • Dave

    Given that the fine would be purely symbolic if it’s coming alongside a lifetime ban, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be heavier.

  • David Phillips

    my point is; she and her entourage should pay for damage they have done to the sport. How many sponsors have left the sport in the last twenty years because of cheats? Nike, Milram, Telekom Deutschland, Phonak, Rabo etc. How many potential sponsors have decided against investing in the sport because of cheats? How much money and investment in cycle sport and infrastructure has gone begging because of the very bad reputation cycling has? A reputation that has been established by perpetual cheating. Evidently, short bans and small fines don’t work.
    Another question, would it be fair to ban her for longer or increase the fine if she was 29? So she’s 19 and was probably manipulated, but the punishment must fit the crime. In a non sporting sense should a criminal be given a lesser punishment because they are only 19. Boo hoo, she had the choice and she chose to cheat. To quote my old maths teacher, ‘Failure to pay due regard to warnings repeatedly given will bring in its train dire consequences that could have easily be avoided with a little self restraint’.

  • Leodis75

    I don’t think I have ruined other peoples careers by my cheating. You seem to forget the people riding clean are the victims here. Her brother is already banned for EPO doping and her father caught on CCTV for stealing birds!!!

  • grizzman

    Come on everyone! She’s 19 years old! a 50,000 Euro fine and lifetime ban?? Yes, she cheated but leave off with the ‘let’s ruin her life forever’ crap! People get less for burglary! I think the main issue here is that a 19 year old rider has been convinced it’s a good idea to ride a mechanically doped bike by people who should definitely know better… I’m pretty sure she didn’t install the motor…. Ban here for a year and if she wants a second chance after that then let her have one… Jesus! everyone’s so vindictive as if they’ve never done anything wrong!

  • Chris Williams

    Well said 🙂

  • richcyclo

    You’re being naive in the extreme.
    I bet you would swallow the “dog eat my homework” excuse as well !

  • David Phillips

    I think 50k is not enough! How many would be young cyclists will be removed from cycling by parents concerned for their welfare? What will be the financial cost to cycling and it’s hinter industries be as a result of her and her team’s actions? I am a 46 year old racing cyclist and father. I started racing in the 80’s and still race. I have never won a race but top ten in many road races and still i take the start line, as i do i look around at the some very goggle eyed, vein bulging, pumped up and extra talkative competitors and think, ‘there is no way my daughter will do this’. I don’t want to her to come into contact with these unscrupulous people, i don’t want her to be cheated. I bet many other parents will come to similar conclusions. These cheats have no right to even ask for leniency. Kick them out and let the honest racers race. The powers that be have procrastinated for too long, to the sports detriment. Time to make a stand, time to stop letting the cheats get off on pultry punishment and protect the sport and the participants therein.

  • Jay

    The lifetime ban will definitely make young riders think twice as doping is becoming more prevalent amongst amateur racing. It’s pathetic they play the ‘I didn’t know’ card and blame the mechanic as the whole team has the duty to ensure they perform cleanly, not just the rider.

  • Seth Elliott

    Feel free to link to it. This being the internet and all.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    There is a youtube vid of Femke using the motor in a cyclo-cross. It’s pretty compelling stuff I can assure you.

  • Stevo

    I agree. What is not clear though from this article or the one in Het Nieuwsblad is whether the UCI is giving any credence to her version of the events.

  • Seth Elliott

    If the doped bike actually isn’t hers and was never used by her (both of which seem likely so far), why ban her, ruining the life of a 19 year old?

  • Mike Prytherch

    I’m in favor of a lifetime ban, but I think the fine is outrageous, she can never compete again that’s enough punishment for a 19 year old.

  • Nick

    I would add to that with mechanical doping there is very little doubt as to whether it happened. With regular doping there is always that slight chance that a blood sample was tainted or in rare instances you ingested something that had traces of performance enhancing compounds.

  • Dan Kenyon

    This will probably sound bad but they way I see it is at least with ‘regular’ doping your still cycling and putting the effort in, with mechanical doping your using a small motor bike in parts, its not cycling anymore.

  • Chris Williams

    Yes and as Andy says below – life time ban for normal doping!!!!

  • Andy Gibson

    That would be good, though don’t see why this would be penalised differently from “regular” doping? Maybe could be a precedent for moving towards lifetime bans for that too!