Tour de France to Use Thermal Cameras to Detect Mechanical Doping

PHOTO: A staff member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) holds a tablet to scan a bicycle during a demonstration on testing for technological fraud and detecting the presence of a motor inside the frame, May 3, 2016.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
A staff member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) holds a tablet to scan a bicycle during a demonstation on testing technological fraud and detecting the presence of a motor inside the frame at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, on May 3, 2016. The tablet scans a bicycle with magnetic resistance technology, testing the frame and wheels in less than a minute in order to detect mechanical doping during cycling races. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read

The Tour de France will use thermal cameras this year to detect hidden motors used by cyclists to gain an unfair advantage, French officials announced today.

The thermal cameras can detect the heat emitted from a hidden motor even if the motor is turned off, The Associated Press reported.

The new technology will crack down on so-called mechanical doping and attempt to maintain the integrity of professional cycling, a sport that has been plagued with scandals involving performance-enhancing drugs.

Earlier this year the International Cycling Union said it discovered that Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche concealed an electric motor in her bike during the women-under-23 race at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships.

She was suspended for six years and ordered to return all medals and prize money.

Thierry Braillard, the French secretary of state for sports, announced the use of thermal cameras at a news conference this morning with Thierry Mandon, the French secretary of state for higher education and research; Brian Cookson, the president of the UCI; David Lappartient, the president of the French Cycling Federation; and Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France.

PHOTO: President of the French cycling federation David Lappartient (L) and French Minister for Higher Education and Research Thierry Mandon (R) look at a screen during a press conference on mechanical fraud, on June 27, 2016. Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images
President of the French cycling federation David Lappartient (L) and French Minister for Higher Education and Research Thierry Mandon (R) look at a screen during a press conference on mechanical fraud, on June 27, 2016.

The cameras were produced by the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in collaboration with the French government.

"We are sending a clear message, which is that there is literally nowhere to hide for anyone foolish enough to attempt to cheat in this way," Cookson said at the news conference, according to the AP.

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