An elite cyclist has been banned for six years and fined £14,000 after an electric motor was discovered hidden in one of her bikes.
Belgian Femke Van den Driessche, 19, was found guilty of violating competition rules through “technological fraud” at the world cyclo-cross championships in January.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) ruled against her and called the ban “a major victory” in the fight against a form of cheating seen as getting worse in the sport.
And it was the first time a professional rider was punished for so-called “mechanical doping”.
The bike was seized by cycling authorities after she was forced to pull out of the women’s under-23 race due to a mechanical problem.
Van den Driessche denied knowing the bike broke the rules and said it belonged to her friend.
But she later decided not to contest the finding and announced her retirement from professional cycling in March.
The UCI said the device was found in the rider’s pit area using magentic testing.
It said the Vivax motor was concealed along with a battery in the seat-tube, and was controlled by a Bluetooth switch under the handlebar tape.
“The bike concerned was scanned using the new magnetic resonance testing deployed this year by the UCI. This detected the motor whilst the bike was in the rider’s pit area,” it said.
All her competitive results since October 2015 have been nullified and she had been stripped of her ranking.
She has been ordered to return medals and prize monies from events in which she competed over that period, and to pay costs of the proceedings.