Cyclist Disqualified for Mechanical Doping

The third-place finisher reportedly admitted to using a motor, but now denies the confession. – By Miranda Smith

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An Italian amateur cyclist was disqualified from a masters race in Bedizzole, Italy, under suspicion of mechanical doping on Saturday.

According to the Gazzetta dello Sport (an Italian sports newspaper), race organisers were tipped off and used a thermal camera to identify a motor in third-place finisher Alessandro Andreoli’s bicycle.

Organiser Emiliano Scalfi of the Centro Sportivo Italiano, an amateur sports governing body, said Andreoli’s seat tube looked like it was on fire, so they asked the 53-year-old cyclist to bring his bike in for inspection after the race. From there, the organisers examined the bike, but Andreoli would not allow them to disassemble it, stating that he was running late for a wedding.

Scalfi said that Andreoli reportedly admitted to using a motor during the inspection, but Andreoli denied the confession and claimed he did not cheat in an interview with the Gazzetta dello Sport.

RELATED: How Does Mechanical Doping Work?

Also in the interview Andreoli said he couldn’t remember the name or number of the person from which he’d bought the bike (whom he’d allegedly met somewhere on the street) and that his recent improvements in racing were due to him solving his back issues and training hard, not mechanical doping. When asked why he had been disqualified, Andreoli reportedly responded that many people were jealous of his lifestyle because he earns a lot of money.

Mechanical doping is relatively rare, but Andreoli’s case isn’t the first time a racer has been disqualified for using a motor. Pro cycling saw its first confirmed case of mechanical doping when Femke Van den Driessche was caught in the 2016 Cyclocross World Championships in Belgium. Van den Driessche was fined and banned from the UCI for six years.

RELATED: Motorised Doping Confirmed at Cyclo-Cross World Champs

Since then, thermal cameras have been used at the Tour de France. While no cases of mechanical doping in the pro Tour peloton have been reported, UCI technical manager Mark Barfield says he believes it could have happened before—but won’t be happening again.

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