Belgian cyclist Femke Van Den Driessche has decided to quit cycling and not defend herself at a disciplinary hearing this week. The 19-year-old was accused of making use of a concealed motor in her bike during the under-23 Cyclo-cross world championships in January in Belgium.

Femke becomes the first rider caught concealing a motor in her racing bike and this incident happened at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. The Belgian Cycling Federation confirmed the detained bike belonged to European and Belgium’s U23 champion Van den Driessche, who is sponsored by Wilier and races for the trade team Team Kleur op Maat.

A day after the bike was confiscated, UCI President Brian Cookson confirmed in a press conference that the bike in question did had a motor concealed inside its tubing that goes directly against the UCI regulations surrounding technological fraud article 12.1.013.

The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) President Gianni Bugno reacting to the incident said the problem is far from the pro road peloton. Bugno remarked it is out of discussion that whoever is cheating during competition must be heavily punished and also said the riders are all in favor of this and they are the first ones to show interest to unmask those who act unfairly, whether they are riders, mechanicals, or other team members. Bugno supported the efforts of the UCI and promised to extend full cooperation from the riders. The CPA chief said we are convinced that the sport’s governing body is doing its best to improve and refine the controls and we hope there will be a progress, with the cooperation of manufacturers, in order to remove any doubt about performances of athletes.

Femke’s brother Niels is currently serving a suspension for doping. Femke’s father, Peter, and brother, Niels, are presently criminal charges and have been charged with attempt to steal two expensive parakeets from the pet store De Gouldamandine in Varsenare. If found guilty, the father-son duo would likely receive prison sentences of between 1-5 years and a fine of up to €3,000.

In a statement, Femke said the cost of defending herself before the UCI, the world’s governing body of cycling, would be too expensive for her. She added “acquittal would be impossible” and also remarked she has decided to quit cyclo-cross. She however maintained the bike belonged to a friend and her support team mistakenly took it to the pits. Nico Van Muylder, a former racer, has already claimed ownership of the bike.

Femke Van Den Driessche said she had decided to discontinue her defense, after consulting with her lawyers and family, at the hearing in Aigle. The Belgian cyclist also said she had decided for herself to stop cyclo-cross and remarked the public had already decided her case anyhow. Driessche added an acquittal would be impossible as the bike was in her pit zone and also said the costs of the meeting in Switzerland will be too high for her.

Van den Driessche may have faced a ban of at least six months and a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs. However, many in the cycling fraternity called for a more severe punishment and some even went to suggest that a lifetime ban would be the best punishment to make an example of her for others.

 

 

 

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