Allegations of motorised doping have been fired against Movistar by the Italian media, after a video appears to show the rear wheel of one of their bikes still spinning once the rider had fallen off.

La Gazzetta dello Sport question whether Ion Izagirre’s Canyon bike may have had a hidden motor concealed inside when Spanish rider fell during Wednesday’s opening stage of the Volta a Valenciana.

The suspicion follows last weekend’s revelation that under-23 rider, Femke Van den Driessche, was found to have a motor hidden inside one of her bikes during the Cyclocross World Championships in Belgium.

No rider within the men’s pro tour has ever been found guilty of riding a bike that contains a fitted motor despite claims dating back to 2010 that this practice exists.

However these latest allegations mirror the ones lodged against Ryder Hesjedal in 2014, when in an almost identical incident Hesjedal’s bike moved across the road of its own accord after he fell off.

Movistar faced accusations of mechanical doping at the 2015 Vuelta a España, when a video emerged of a team mechanic allegedly trying to hide a broken bike halfway through a stage.

  • GFK

    I was commenting specifically on mechanical fraud. The same provision is not there, as yet, for pharmaceutical doping.

    That’s why I said in the second paragraph
    ” which is why anti-doping penalties need to be put on a footing that likewise penalise a whole team” …

  • Gareth Hillary

    Lots of If’s and But’s though arent there ?

  • Gareth Hillary

    That doesn’t seem to have mattered previously for Astana and we’ll see about Katusha too… As I say the rewards clearly outweigh the punishment.

  • Gareth Hillary
  • GFK

    It’s not a case of some of us not wanting to see – and in fact you could turn that around, anyway and say “why *do* you want to see it?” … and I have seen bikes move like this occasionally in crashes as well as in other ways that are not immediately accountable for. I’ve seen befuddled riders get on the wrong bike, I’ve seen riders reject the spare bike because they want to finish on *their* bike … all sorts.

    All of these things can and do happen … the question is, whether what happened in RHs case was some clever motor driven wheel that could spin the rear wheel without a significant movement at the cranks? Since we have zero evidence either way, other than a not-very-good quality video, it’s pretty pointless debating it until real evidence emerges.

    Cycnicism is understandable – but viewed in the post Armstrong era, all we can say about that and the subsequent disclosures is that there must have been a truckload of journos (apart from a notable few) going around with their eyes firmly closed or averted for a good many years before the Festina incident not to have noticed that there was something damned odd going on.

    The same can’t really be said of mechanical doping. The means have been there for 10yrs plus, allegations have been made but until last week, no-one had actually turned a bike up with a motor in it. I’ve worked with professional teams incl Continental Pro and World Tour and on some very big, high profile sportifs / gran fondos and seen no signs at all of “mechanical fraud” (unless you count over-hyped claims about this or that mechanical part of a bike … )

  • GFK

    The rules provide for a 2 year ban for the *whole team*.

    Think about that in terms of the budget of a team like Movistar – something of the order of €15 million / year plus … so a full-team ban if enforced would be mean pretty heavy duty financial loss to the sponsors – plus the riders, DSs, ancillary staff, etc.

    A team owner couldn’t stand that sort of a risk – which is why anti-doping penalties need to be put on a footing that likewise penalise a whole team … because it’s increasingly difficult for an athlete in the professional sport to act alone and for that action to be effective. Additionally, it’s one thing to take a 2 year ban and come back as an athlete – but how hard would it be to ever find a team that would have you afterwards if your infraction had also made 40 or 50 people redundant for however long a period of time? That’d be some peer pressure …

  • Gareth Hillary

    Interesting concept.

  • Chris

    Yes, Just below the motor but on the same shaft, above the bevelled drive gear. This system would effectively disconnect the motor’s drive effect on the BB when the rider’s natural cadence overtakes the motor, thus not limiting rider’s downhill performance by drag from the motor. The minute the rider’s natural cadence slows then the clutch bites and the motor then contributes to the effort.

  • Gareth Hillary

    I don’t think the penalites are either enough of a deterrant or the € rewards for NOT being caught are too great.

  • Gareth Hillary

    That is a great observation but I dont see how it would work since the driveshaft is opposed 90 degrees to the bottom bracket (in the examples I’ve seen EG: Greg Lemond’s demo etc…) or are you suggesting the clutch could be incorporated into the bit where the driveshaft connects to the BB spindle?

  • Gareth Hillary

    No, swapping bikes after an impact is standard practice and not suspicious if the team car is there.
    There could be hairline fractrues in the frame which could worsen and cause the frame to disintegrate which woudl be very dangerous.

  • J1

    Ceramicspeed bearings.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    I would not put too much faith in the UCI .

  • David Germain

    Check this out. If they have a fluid inside the Tyres (anti puncher) it could do this.

  • Peter A Johnstone

    I am obviously guilty of mechanical doping as last year, when traveling downhill, I lost control on a bend and came off. The rear wheel continued to spin for a good minute which obviously points to mechanical doping.
    I am now busy cutting my bike into small pieces with the intention of locating the hidden motor or motors. I’ve also noticed that the stearing is a bit light so will also investigate the forks for a power steering device.

  • Scott Wilson

    The wheel is clearly spinning and it is unfortunately a little suspicious, he is also very keen to re-mount that bike also, not conclusive proof of anything really but it’s a shame that we have to ask the question. It’s good that the UCI have invested in testing tech to combat this potential problem.

  • AndyW

    I thought most of these motors drove the crank not the back wheel. I have Not seen any motors fitted directly in Wheels. IN this video the cranks are not moving. So how is it being driven by a motor?

  • RWH

    That is exactly the point with the Hesjedal video…..the wheel hits and then is dragged along the ground, more than enough to stop it spinning.

    I don’t understand these people who don’t want to see it, so ignore what is clearly in front of them. Yes, it would be another blow to find a ‘new’ way of cheating, but ignoring it won’t make it go away.

  • Crydda

    Clearly, those who claim that this video is proof of a hidden motor, have never ridden a bike.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Not if the wheel is being manipulated crank based doping and electric motors are old hat been around for many years.

  • Peter Campbell

    It’s difficult to judge from the quality of the footage above, but having watched the TV coverage there is no case to answer here. The wheel is still spinning after the crash and stops when he puts the wheel on the ground as expected. He then tries to ride the bike but has to switch as it is damaged, He throws it to the ground and the wheel spins again – all normal really More interesting about this crash is that he could have fallen through the gap in the fence down a 40 foot drop!

  • Chuck6421

    The Hesjedal case is very suspicious because if you watch closely you can see the rear wheel impact the pavement hard enough to possibly flex it laterally, which should be way more than enough to stop it spinning, yet it doesn’t and seems to carry enough rotational momentum to then spin the bike on the ground.

  • Chuck6421

    “Traditional”? Dear god, no.
    But as I’ve commented elsewhere, mechanical assist doesn’t have to be to the cranks.

  • Chuck6421

    I don’t think that’s the only way you can “mechanically dope”.

  • Michael

    Bike wheels spin for a long time. My LBS facebook page often has videos they’ve uploaded of wheels they have built for customers and they’ll spin them so they are ‘click click click’ for ages. The more expensive the hubs the longer they should spin.

  • Muataz Jabri

    why he did not change the bike?

  • I think this is simply the inertia from the disc wheel. If it was motorised it would carry on when the bike is stood back up. it doesnt.

  • Chris

    I am making no accusations, but the incident requires investigation.

  • Dan Kenyon

    If you watch the clip again the bike that gets put on the ground first IS the new bike the rider tries to carry on using the one he fell with which is why theres a lock up

  • Dan Kenyon

    But still the chain needs to move to turn the wheel, to turn the chain the pedals need to turn which they are not. Im pretty sure I seen you post the exact same comment on another website where the exact same thing was pointed out to. Why are you trying to find signs of cheating??? Here is a test for you, spin your wheel up and lay the bike down on the floor, does the wheel still spin? If it does your obviously cheating and using a motor….

  • Chris

    Not if you fit a sprag clutch in line between the motor and the bevelled drive gear.

  • Harri

    haha I hope his rear wheel is spinning, because last time I checked wheels tend to spin. Or am I the only person that does not ride a fixie?

  • Burt Fleming

    It (spinning or shimmering wheel) doesn’t look suspicious, makes sense that a rider going at these speeds with expensive wheels and bearings could have a wheel, if it is spinning, continue to spin. What looks suspicious is the rider getting offered another bike, refusing it, riding it a few meters and suddenly stopping as if something is jammed or not working right, only to take the bike that was offered moments before. Why would he refuse a perfectly good bike, does he need this particular bike to make up time? wink wink

  • dannybuoy

    Surely if a wheels spinning that speed was then touched on the ground it would jolt forward a little. Unless he grabbed the brake and it stopped. But again, there would be some movement of the bike, which there wasn’t. Strange.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Very suspect indeed we have blown this up by ten and the wheel is definitely in our opinion spinning and the swapping of bikes is very very suspicious in fact lends itself to bike doping .Did the UCI ask to see the bike before it could be re engineered.

  • Alan Newman

    The spinning of the wheel looks to be fairly normally to me, if he came off at speed and the wheel was elevated during the accident then it’s possible to keep spinning at speed for a while.

    The only bit of this that looks suspicious is that he appears to notice the camera car and make a deliberate effort to stop the wheel spinning.

  • Adrian

    That shimmering is because of the video quality… It’s all over the picture.

  • Janne Koskinen

    If it is the traditional type of motor which is integrated in bottom bracket and inside seat tube it spin the pedals. In this video wheel is spinning but pedals aren’t.

  • Jaime Velo

    Wheels spin freely. Duh. And the e-motors are pedal assist. You only get a boost if you pedal.

  • Bob Higgins

    The disc wheel is heavy and has a lot of momentum so if it continued spinning I understand, but the spare bike backing up is strange.

  • Namothy

    You can see that the wheel is definitely not spinning because the white decals on the outer of the wheel does not move at all, it’s just light shimmering with the movement of the camera and the bike as it’s being picked up.

  • GFK

    I’ve watched this video about half a dozen times & I can’t see it …

    There are a couple of videos around that purport to show that the Hesjerdal incident can actually be reproduced without a motor, with a light racing bike, if you lay it correctly on smooth tarmac with some rotational force on the rear wheel, on a shallow gradient …

    Given the penalties than can be levied against the whole team under the rules, a World Tour team wouldn’t risk it, although in the post-USPS world, there will be alot of cynicism about that ….