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Motor Doping In Professional Cycling Under Investigation

Television show CBS 60 Minutes is believed to broadcast an investigation into mechanical doping in cycling in the New Year. It is rumored that former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong would be facing scrutiny in the investigation.

The CBS 60 minutes investigation is due to be aired on Saturday January 28. Istvan Varjas, the engineer widely believed to be the brains behind the invention of mechanical doping in cycling, was interviewed. Varjas admitted he was paid to share his knowledge.

CBS 60 Minutes reporter Bill Whitaker traveled to Hungary in June of 2016 to meet Varjas. Whitaker asked for an interview and demonstrations of mechanical doping. The reporter also interviewed Tyler Hamilton, the former teammate of Armstrong, and Greg LeMond who has been critical of strategy of the world governing body of cycling and deter mechanical doping.

It was claimed by Varjas that one of the first prototypes of a motor was sold by him at the end of 1998. Varjas said he could not talk about the technology or continue to develop it for 10 years as part of an agreement.

Varjas also said that a 15-second burst of power can be given by the latest version of hidden motors that could prove out to be extremely beneficial to gain an advantage over peers and went on to add that no doping product can match this power burst. Varjas added you can activate it remotely by Bluetooth, by remote control or by a watch. He also said it can be controlled from the team car and the rider may not even be aware that he has a motor and also remarked it could just feel like they are having a very good day. Varjas added that model is designed for high speeds, for time trials.

The engineer added that Dr. Michele Ferrari, who has also been banned for life for doping Lance Armstrong and other athletes, visited him three years ago so that he can understand the technology and implications of mechanical doping. Varjas said he was amused to find Dr. Ferrari getting worried about his future because of mechanical doping replacing his physiological methods of improving performance. Varjas claimed Ferrari wanted to understand if he had lost his touch and said he could not understand if he was losing it or if it was down to motors. The engineer said he let him test a bike and he understood things.

French newspaper Le Monde contacted Lance Armstrong as part of its story. The disgraced cyclist denied ever using mechanical doping during his career.

In 2010, suspicions of mechanical doping first emerged. Later, many reports were focused on many mysterious bike and wheel changes during major races. A case of mechanical doping involving the bike of Belgian Under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche was discovered by the cycling's governing body at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships. Thereafter, the simple bike checks using a tablet device for detecting the magnetic fields that are created by mechanical doping have been introduced by the UCI.

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Albert Wolfgang
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