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Page last updated at 20:02 GMT, Thursday, 3 June 2010 21:02 UK

Cycling hit by 'mechanical doping' claims

Fabian Cancellera

Cancellara won the men's time trial at last year's World Championships

It sounds like something you might catch Dennis the Menace doing in the pages of The Beano, but cycling is having to deal with allegations of motorised bikes being used in professional racing.

Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara, who strongly denies any use of motorised bikes, has been at the centre of the allegations.

And for a sport that has been beset by years of damaging drugs revelations, the latest claims - dubbed "mechanical doping" by one team director - are unwelcome to say the least.

"It's so stupid I'm speechless," said Cancellara, the Olympic time-trial champion, while his team Saxo Bank team issued a complete rejection of the rumours.

"Team Saxo Bank rejects all insinuations and accusations that have been made in the media regarding Fabian Cancellara's alleged use of an electric motor in his bike," read the statement.

"Team Saxo Bank is strongly opposed to any form of cheating and there is absolutely no truth to this story. There was not and never has been a motor in any Team Saxo Bank rider's bike.

Cycling is about men riding their bikes, with their physical strength

Confidis team director Alain Deloeil

"We regret if this has led anyone to view Team Saxo Bank in a negative way and we are deeply offended by the questioning of Fabian Cancellara's integrity, character and abilities."

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, is not investigating Cancellara, although talks with bike manufacturers are planned next week.

"We want to make sure that, as batteries on bikes progress, the UCI is in a position to monitor completely any usage there might be in an unfair way," UCI chief Pat McQuaid told the Associated Press.

Cofidis team director Alain Deloeil has demanded that action is taken to stamp out any nefarious practices.

"I hope they will make sure that no rider will use them on this year's Tour de France," he said.

"If it's true, this is mechanical doping. Cycling is about men riding their bikes, with their physical strength. If you add a motor, we'll soon be riding the 24 Hours of Le Mans Moto."

But Deloeil did concede that the number of people who would have to be involved in cheating of this kind made it unlikely on the professional scene.

"The sports directors, the mechanics as well would have to know," said Deloeil.

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see also
Cancellara targets cycling history
25 Sep 09 |  Cycling

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