France will not ban cyclists from cheating


The government turned down a proposed law that would punish ‘technological doping.’

The pro cycling world may be cracking down on the use of hidden motors to cheat in races, but it doesn’t look like governments are ready to make it a criminal offence. The French government has shot down a proposed law that would have made this “technological doping” illegal, adding legal penalties to the punishments from racing leagues themselves. It’s not that the politicians endorse cheating, of course. Rather, it’s that they feel the proposal was premature and potentially too harsh given existing measures.

The would-be law promised both a fine of €3,750 (about $3,991) and up to a year in prison for individual offenders. Larger outfits involved in making or acquiring hidden motors would have faced a €150,000 fine (currently $159,653) and as many as 7 years of prison time.

The concept still has legs. A compromise will have the government study the viability of criminalising motor-based cheating, and give more authority to France’s anti-doping agency. There could very well be legal repercussions to getting an unfair technical advantage. Observers have complained about Tour de France organisers hindering French police investigations, suggesting that the leagues aren’t always the best judges of their own actions. It’s just that officials would rather understand the potential consequences of an anti-motor law before welcoming it with open arms.

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