Cycling

LeMond says cheats use secret motors

Greg LeMond (AFP)
Greg LeMond (AFP)

New York - A Hungarian designer of a secret bicycle motor says he thinks pro cyclists have used them to cheat since 1998 and US cycling legend Greg LeMond says he can't trust Tour de France results.

Both were interviewed by the CBS television news show "60 Minutes" for a segment to be telecast Sunday where designer Istvan Varjas, a scientist and former cyclist, outlines mechanical cheating methods in a sport already rocked by infamous doping scandals, notably by disgraced US rider Lance Armstrong.

Varjas designed a motor to fit inside a bike frame in 1998 and an anonymous buyer paid him $2 million for it and a deal not to work on such motors, speak of them or sell them for 10 years.

He said he thinks the motor was used to cheat in cycling races, but Varjas claims it's not his fault, saying even if he knew for certain it would be used for cheating, "If the money is big, why not?"

Three-time Tour de France winner LeMond wants greater testing for motors by cycling officials.

"This is curable. This is fixable," LeMond said. "I don't trust it until they figure out... how to take the motor out. I won't trust any victories of the Tour de France."

Varjas displayed his motorized bicycles in a Budapest bike shop, showing journalists how a secret switch can engage the motor or, in more sophisticated models, it engages as a rider's heart rate peaks.

One rider was caught with a secret motor last year and Jean Pierre Verdy, former French Anti-Doping Agency testing director, is concerned.

"It has been the last three to four years when I was told about the use of the motors," he said. "There's a problem. By 2015, everyone was complaining and I said, 'Something has got to be done.'"

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