UCI 'studying' alleged hidden motors

NYON, Switzerland -- The International Cycling Union will examine so-called "mechanical doping" at a meeting next week with bike manufacturers.

UCI president Pat McQuaid said Wednesday he did not believe rumors sweeping the sport that racers were cheating by getting extra power from battery-powered motors hidden in their bike frames.

"We have no belief at the moment that it's actually a fact," McQuaid told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

But he said the subject is on the agenda of a routine meeting between the UCI and industry representatives next Monday.

"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," McQuaid said.

Motors that can be attached to a bicycle have been commercially available for several years, but existing models require a battery carried visibly in a saddle bag.

McQuaid said the UCI has no knowledge of motors that could be hidden inside the tubes of a frame.

"They are still not invisible," he said. "All the evidence we're seeing ... is that the battery is about the size of a bag of sugar."

McQuaid said the UCI has contacted former racer Davide Cassani, who says he has tested a motorized bike that could help a rider cheat.

Cassani's reports for Italian television have fueled speculation that mechanical doping could rival performance-enhancing drugs as a threat to the sport.

"This is a story that has gone around the world like wildfire, whereas there is no foundation for it," McQuaid said.