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Cycling's Most Infamous Motodoping Accusation Has Returned To Haunt The Sport

Cycling's Most Infamous Motodoping Accusation Has Returned To Haunt The Sport
From Deadspin - November 9, 2017

Last January, Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was caught using an illegal motor in her bike at the cyclocross world championships, and though it was the first confirmed case of motodoping, the professional cycling worlds ultimate boogeyman has haunted the sport since a very specific incident in 2010. That year, all-time great Fabian Cancellara dominated both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders (the two most prestigious one-day races in the cycling world), though his performances were met with a bit of scrutiny. Former pro David Cassani accused Cancellara of using a hidden motor, and a now-infamous YouTube truther video highlighted a few suspect accelerations that Cancellara was able to make, purportedly with the aid of that motor.

Cancellara has denied the allegations up and down and hes never been found out. However, those accelerations are funky, and although no professionals besides and Van den Driessche have been caught, there have been a steady stream of accusations against top-level pro riders and cycling officials seem to be taking motodoping pretty seriously. Goofy amateurs keep getting caught, but the degree to which this is an actual problem is still uncertain.

Which brings us to Phil Gaimon, jolly former professional rider whose recent book Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While) has dredged up Cancellaras sudden accelerations from seven years ago and brought this whole mess back into the news cycle. In the book, Gaimon writes about watching the 2010 Paris-Roubaix and hearing rumors that Cancellara kept his bike away from the rest of his team with his private mechanic. When you watch the footage, his accelerations dont look natural at all, like hes having trouble staying on the top of the pedals. Thatf**ker probably did have a motor, he writes.

Thats a fairly hefty accusation, and its been picked up around the cycling world. However,Gaimon pointed out that he was simply giving his take, and that writ large, motodoping is essentially a nonissue inside the cycling world. The irony is that in the book, the context is dismissing motor doping as clickbait since that year when he did it, Gaimon told Deadspin. In retrospect I should have expected it but I didnt.

This echoes what he told Cycling News yesterday, when he called the accusation a red herring:

I do think it happened that year a couple times, but as soon as somebody noticed and it became a story nobody did it again. I think its an absolute clickbait, red herring - even up to the new UCI president [David Lappartient] who is acting like its a big issue that he is going to get to the bottom of. Anyone on the inside knows its a joke.

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