Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, Jan 30, 2016 (AFP) – World cycling body UCI confirmed on Saturday they had seized a bicycle amid claims it was powered by a hidden engine at the cyclo-cross world championships.
The bicycle was ridden by Femke Van den Driessche, the Belgian cycling federation (RLVB) later confirmed.
Among the race favourites, Van den Driessche was forced to withdraw from the women’s under-23 race because of a mechanical problem towards the end.
The UCI said they were examining the bicycle for “technological fraud”.
“Our auditors detected mechanical fraud — it quickly became apparent that something was wrong,” UCI race coordinator Peter Van den Abeele told Belgian television Sporza.
He gave no further details as to the nature of the alleged fraud, but Belgian state television claimed that a small motor had been discovered in the bicycle frame.
Belgian coach Rudy De Bie said he was “disgusted”.
“We thought that we had in Femke a great talent in the making but it seems that she fooled everyone,” he told Sporza.
If found guilty of cheating the rider faces disqualification, a six-month suspension and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs (92,000 euros, $99,640).