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The cameras will help catch any competitors attempting to cheat using hidden motors within their bikes. Mechanical or technological doping has become an issue that the UCI has started to address in 2016.
The 103rd Tour de France is set to begin on July 2. The race is by far the biggest event in the sport of cycling, making it the perfect venue for the UCI to continue their fight against the newest wave of cheating in their sport.
We covered technological doping in February, when the UCI first started testing for it. They conducted these initial tests by using magnetic resistance scans. The tests take roughly 30 seconds and are designed to detect hidden magnets, batteries and motors within a bike.
The thermal cameras at the Tour de France will be set up throughout the 2,200 miles of the course. The UCI claims they have the resources to conduct up to 4,000 tests during the 21 days of competition.
Since they began testing roughly six months ago, the UCI has tested thousands of bikes. They hope to test around 12,000 bikes by the end of 2016 and have been met with little resistance to the testing. The cycling community is also attempting to be proactive against this newest wave a cheating. Race organizers and teams all over the world have begun to purchase UCI scanners to help curb the prevalence of technological doping.
UCI president Brian Cookson is very excited about the testing. “Since the beginning of the year, we are sending a clear message which is that there is literally no-where to hide for anyone foolish enough to attempt to cheat in this way,” he said in a statement. “A modified bike is extremely easy to detect with our scanners and we will continue to deploy them extensively throughout the Tour.”
There has only been one high-profile instance of a mechanical doper being caught using the UCI testing methods. But with the cycling world just days away from the start of the most important competition in their sport, it might not be long before others are caught.
For a sport that has had its fair share of cheating scandals, the UCI seems poised to fight its newest one head-on.