Team Sky deny use of motorised bikes in 2015 Tour de France

American television programme reveals details of alleged ‘mechanical doping’

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford denied allegations of ‘mechanical doping’ last year. Photograph: Getty/Bryn Lennon

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford denied allegations of ‘mechanical doping’ last year. Photograph: Getty/Bryn Lennon

 

Team Sky have denied using motorised bikes at the 2015 Tour de France following the revelation in an American TV programme that a former French official claimed that 12 riders were using hidden motors at the event. Jean-Pierre Verdy, the former French Anti-Doping agency testing director, claimed that “mechanical doping” had taken place, but did not name which teams or riders he suspected.

The allegations concerning Team Sky came as it was announced on Monday that the head of UK Anti-Doping and the doctor alleged to have received a mystery package intended for Sky’s Bradley Wiggins at a race in 2011 will answer questions from the culture, media and sport select committee next month.

Dr Richard Freeman, who works for British Cycling and was formerly employed by Team Sky, gave the contents of the package to Wiggins at the end of the Critérium du Dauphiné , a Tour de France warm-up race, the former technical director Shane Sutton has previously told MPs. The government department confirmed on Monday that Freeman had been called to answer questions regarding the package on February 22nd. The package has been the subject of a Ukad investigation ever since the story was revealed in October. Team Sky and Wiggins have denied any wrongdoing.

Sunday’s TV programme, aired by CBS, also featured Istvan Varjas, a Hungarian mechanic, who claims that on the day before the 2015 Tour de France started he had delivered motorised bikes to a “locked storage room” in Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French Riviera. He did not reveal who had requested the bikes. The mechanic told the programme makers that a motorised bicycle could be identified because the modified rear wheel would be 800 grammes heavier than a regular one.

CBS did not detail how they had obtained information but claimed that Team Sky’s time-trial bicycles during the Tour were approximately 800 grammes heavier than those used by other teams.

A Team Sky spokesman denied mechanical doping. The spokesman explained that “during a time-trial stage bikes might be heavier to allow for better aerodynamic performance”.

The allegations of motorised doping are not new and Dave Brailsford, the Team Sky principal, spoke about them last year.

“Finding an engine in a bike is a pretty simple thing to do in this day and age,” Brailsford said. “The technology used to beam the [TV]pictures up to the satellite is a lot more complex, and used on a day-to-day basis, than finding a motor in a bike. You just need the right tech to find it. You’ve either got an engine in your bike or you haven’t.”

“[FROOME’S] bike has been tested more than everyone else’s, we get tested every day and we actually had an email from the UCI saying thank you for being the most cooperative team out of everybody when it comes to bike checks and mechanical checking,” Brailsford added. “If someone is stupid enough come here [to the Tour de France] with a motor in their bike for sure they will get caught.”

Team Sky were second in the team time-trial at the 2015 Tour de France and after the stage, Team Sky’s bikes were checked by the International Cycling Union (UCI) for motors and none were found.

(Guardian service)

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