Mechanical Doping Revelations

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SInce I posted about the possible good uses for an electric bike yesterday, I was surprised to see an article at Cyclingnews saying that the guy that is credited with “inventing” mechanical doping for racing did a TV program, that is going to be aired in France in January, says it has been widespread in the Pro ranks and is going to have potentially, a “bigger impact” than the Festina doping affair from the 90’s.

It really doesn’t surprise me that much.  When guys want to cheat, it doesn’t really matter how they do it.  I’d assume that athletes would rather just put mechanical assistance on their bikes than take drugs, but they are probably doing both.

There is also an article at Cyclingnews interviewing Floyd Landis.  Floyd says that the dopers will always be one step ahead of the authorities, so the whole process is flawed.  I couldn’t argue with that either.  That is how doping in sports work.  The current system isn’t going to cure the problems.

Anyway, I’m sort of  looking forward to the show next month, in a weird sort of way.  It is funny, but when I talk to people a little about motors for racing, they seem more upset with that prospect than of actually doping to win.  I’m not sure what that is all about.  Maybe they believe the Lance story of everyone is doing it, so they are just trying to level the playing field.  That wouldn’t be the case with a power assisted bikes I guess.

I don’t really see the difference much.

Anyway, last weekend before Christmas.  Much of the country is cold, like really cold.  Guess it is time to ride inside again?



25 thoughts on “Mechanical Doping Revelations

  1. Gordo

    You are correct on the cold weather in most of the USA. I thought of that Yesterday when it was one of those days in Sacramento where you could ride in shorts and short sleeves.

  2. LD

    “It is funny, but when I talk to people a little about motors for racing, they seem more upset with that prospect than of actually doping to win.”

    Perhaps because so many (most?) people use some chemical additives for their ergogenic effects – such as caffeine, B vitamins, BCAAs, taurine, creatine, electrolytes. There a continuum of what is OK to sketchy to outright illegal with substances you consume; not so with motors.

  3. D Digler

    Huge difference in my opinion. At least with doping your body is still doing 100% of the work. Anyone can hop on a motorized bike and be competitive with a world class cyclist. Both are bad but the later to me is way worse and if it’s true that Postal had them then it will bury what is left of LA’s reputation.

  4. FreddieJ

    D Digler,

    There is nothing left of LA’s reputation. I begin to wonder what’s left of pro cycling’s reputation.

  5. The Cyclist

    Considering both motors and EPO work best with really high cadence it’s a perfect combo 😉

  6. Emacdo

    Man that bike in the picture would sell in a second here in Portland, OR. It’s like the steam punk-cum-gravel rider’s fantasy . Hopefully it comes in a coal-fired version….(clean coal, of course)

  7. Dude Ron

    Yeah that sure looks like The Locomotive that pulled us as kids around Horse Shoe Curve near Altoona. Hey that also would make a nice Fixie, thats what students tell me if they see my old steel Gilmour or Landshark lolzz

  8. Tom_A.

    Totally agree on not getting people thinking “mechanical doping” is worse than biological doping. Both are cheating…which is probably why I think it’s best to label dopers as “cheaters” instead. It’s a more accurate term anyway.

  9. sillypuddy

    Is the definition of mechanical doping limited to motors on the bike. I remember long time ago reading about Power Pedals that supposedly would help a rider increase the power on the up strokeof the pedal motion. Wasn’t thar doping? What about elliptical chainrings? I believe it’s cheating because it is the intent to gain an undeserved advantage.
    Now let me get back to enjoying this ice storm with a cold one.

    Sillypuddy OUT!

  10. daveeckstrom

    Seems to me that “cheating” by definition has to include a set of rules for reference. If power pedals or elliptical chainrings were illegal, then their use would have been cheating. Even given that they wouldn’t have given anyone an advantage.

  11. D Digler

    I respectfully disagree. It’s been a universal belief that LA won his TDF’s on a level doping playing field against Ullrich, Basso, Mayo, etc. If it’s disclosed that he went a step further (which is what this hype is alluding to albeit veiled) it would be a complete game changer.

  12. Bob

    It is Rather a shame or Entirely Full of Bullocks that cyclists have to or feel the need to “cheat” by ANY means to “win” ANY Cycling event

  13. FreddieJ


    I hear what you’re saying, but I think LA’s reputation was done in less by the doping itself than by the lying and the absolute viciousness of the way he went after critics such as the Andreus, Lemond and others. The man is shameless, and so any further revelations wouldn’t lower my opinion of him any more than it is, which is at rock bottom. I already believe he’d stop at nothing. But yes, if motors were being used that many years ago, and continue to be refined and used, it is a game-changer for cycling. It’s amazing to watch the competitors and team managers take their own sport into irrelevancy and oblivion. Doped cyclists on doped bikes being controlled like robots through their earpieces by team managers. That isn’t the sport I want to follow.

  14. FreddieJ


    If all new equipment were legal, the TDF would be guys in fully faired recumbents rolling by like a fleet of eggs. If no advancements were allowed they’d be on fixed gears with wing nuts attaching the wheels and being forced to repair their own bikes as the local blacksmith’s (Cristophe). Once you determine rules (in any sport), you then define cheating by who doesn’t follow the rules. Elliptical chainrings OK; Superman aero bars not OK. Very simple, really.
    I think cycle+motor=motorcycle, and that’s a different sport.
    By the way, what’s up with the “Sillypuddy OUT!” thing? Is that something the kids do these days?

  15. sillypuddy

    I agree 100%. My point is that the definition isn’t so clearly defined. The UCI bannes mechanicals for all sorts of reasons whether there is a true and discernable advantage or not. For instance, Spinergy wheels(risk of amputation) , superbike frames like Hotta and lotus( cost to lowered tiered teams) and so on. Now on to more important things, when I say I’m out that means I’m out of Twinkies. Come to think of it

    Sillypuddy OUT!

  16. Bryan Barber

    People feel the need to cheat in every aspect of life! Virtually everyone you and I know, has cheated on something in their lifetime. We have these social discussions in order to determine what is more or less shameful.

  17. Bryan Barber

    UCI makes the rules!
    Yet lacks the will/desire or capability to enforce them. Cheating isn’t defined by who breaks the rules in a corrupt system.

  18. Calvin Jones

    I don’t like the cheater part of this for racing, but I must admit the technical part of these motors are interesting. I find it hard to believe it is a wide spread as claimed, without others knowing about it, including those with several feet of the cheater when they hit the go button. But let’s assume it works as stated. Why isn’t this available commercially? Clearly there would be huge profit to be made selling to the public that wants a clean looking bike that gives them a little help when their friends pick up the pace. It should of course be illegal for UCI style racing, but think of the aging population that would love a push up a hill to stay with the group. You can scorn these people, but I am speaking to the social aspect of group rides. Okay, take me. I can hang with the local group, but if I get dropped on a climb, there is no way am I getting back on. A bit of help at key times gets me to the coffee finish with the group, not 15 minutes back. Too bad my Reynolds 531 tubing is too small for the motor and drive….or is it?

  19. David Atkinson

    I agree. The constant “arms” race with doping and detection will never be settled. You cant legislate morality. Not many people would agree with me, but I think they should scrap the entire policy. Let them take what ever they want.

  20. Pingback: Will 60 Minutes Make Expose it as Real – Mechanical Doping | Steve Tilford

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