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Rather Than Simply Relying On Illegal “Supplements,” Bike Racers Are Now Discretely Electrifying Their Bikes As Well

As someone who has put a substantial amount of my life to date into highly competitive sports, I can say that I am highly aware of just how corrupted by steroids and “supplements” most professional sports now are.

Such things are present at pretty much all levels of competition nowadays, from the professional/Olympic level all the way down to the local primary school level. I recall seeing a study/survey last year that revealed that something like two-thirds of high school athletes were willing to state (only anonymously, of course) that they new how to buy HGH and had used steroids or growth hormones before. This slow process of crapification that has been under way in the sporting world over the last several decades (or longer) has largely soured me on something that had previously seemed to be of real value.

On that note… It appears that the self-induced-ball-cancer-creating behavior of supplement monkeys like Lance Armstrong in the bike-racing world has now expanded to include “discrete electrification” of bikes. I guess that, to be positive, there’s not the potential with such an approach to give oneself ball cancer. So, there’s that.

Here’s more info on the new form of cheating (courtesy of Deadspin):

Rumors that elite professional cyclists have been riding with small, illegal motors tucked away in their bikes have swirled around the pro peloton ever since this infamous truther’s video presented evidence against Fabian Cancellara in 2010. Despite more suspicious evidence occasionally floating to the surface, moto-doping seemed like a fairly improbable boogeyman, something that was too outrageous and silly for anyone to actually try. That is, until Femke Van den Driessche got caught with a seat-post motor at the U-23 cyclocross world championships in January.

Since then, the UCI has ramped up its testing efforts and they now regularly scan bikes for motors before big races. They haven’t found any, but Italy’s Corriere della Sera and France’s Télévisions Stade 2 carried out a collaborative, rather insane joint investigation, and they claim to have uncovered proof of seven cyclists moto-doping at two races in Italy last month using thermal cameras disguised as television cameras.

They say that their covert thermal imaging showed five riders using bottom bracket motors (which is what Van den Driessche used) and two other riders using rear-wheel magnet systems. Investigators went to Italy to visit Alessandro Bartoli, who makes €10,000 motors that fit in a bike’s downtube and generate 25o watts. The types of motors that Bartoli makes are cheap and powerful, but they’re relatively easy to detect. The report claims that those who are using that style of motor have found a better, smaller iteration of the Bartoli motor (translated from Italian): “The Austrian engine now has limits: the power is too much and not adjustable. Thermal cameras at Strade Bianche show something different: orange spots in the bottom bracket, less intense and more focused than those produced by Bartoli bike. Spots that turn on and off uphill downhill.”

The French TV station also sent a reporter to Budapest to meet with Istvan Varjas, a Hungarian engineer who allegedly supplies top professionals with electromagnetic wheels. Unlike cheating with heavy tube motors, moto-doping via electromagnetic wheels is much more subtle. A series of neodymium batteries are hidden inside the rear wheel, and a coil tucked away below the seat generates an induction force, which gets you 60 extra watts of power. The field is controlled via a bluetooth activator.

There’s quite a lot more to the coverage if you’re in a curious or masochistic mood. And there’s the video above as well, for those who prefer visual mediums.

(Thanks to “stuart22” on the GM Volt forum for posting about this. And to the commenter “Barry” for noting: “I bet Lance is laughing at this development.” Yeah, I bet he is.)

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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