PARIS – Two French judges have been designated the task of opening a preliminary probe into whether top international cyclists have cheated by using tiny electric motors hidden in their bicycles, as revealed by a satirical weekly newspaper on Wednesday.
Le Canard Enchaîné said Claire Thépaut and Serge Tournaire, two financial prosecutors, were tasked with investigating the links between international cycling teams and private companies after the allegations came to light at the start of the year.
“A corrupt deal was signed at the highest level of international cycling that benefited prominent riders,” Le Canard Enchaîné said, alleging the pact had allowed for the illegal installation of hi-tech electric motors into bicycle frames used by some of the world’s top cyclists.
The judges suspected that the small motors were impossible to detect during the standard control tests conducted by the International Cyclist Union (UCI), which has carried out 50,000 such tests so far this year, 4,000 of those during the Tour de France.
Le Canard Enchaîné offers satirical coverage of current events but also exposes political scandals.
Ahead of the 2017 French presidential elections, the weekly newspaper alleged that the center-right candidate François Fillon used tax-payer money to pay his wife and children for parliamentary assistant jobs they never did.
The scandal came to be known as Penelopegate – named after Fillon’s wife – and led to an official investigation.
Fillon failed to make it past the first round of voting.