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Thermal cameras to be used in Tour de France to catch motor cheats

Paris: Thermal cameras will be used in this year's Tour de France to fight against motor cheats, French Minister of State for Sport Thierry Braillard announced on Monday. The cameras, which can detect a motor in a bicycle, have been developed by the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) at the request of the French government.

"It is very important that we detect cheating," said International Cycling Union (UCI) president Brian Cookson, present in Paris alongside Braillard; French Minister of State for Research, Thierry Mandon, and Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme. The high-tech CEA thermal camera was used experimentally during the French Championships in Vesoul last weekend, revealed David Lappartient, president of the French cycling federation.

"These tests were conclusive. Even a stopped motor could have been detected," said Lappartient. The camera selected for the July 2-24 Tour will be portable, and its operator can be on a motorcycle or on edge of the road. Tests during the world's top cycling race will be multiple with the cameras used alongside an already existing magnetic resonance method of screening at the start and finish lines.

Braillard added that the French government was preparing legislation to make technological fraud a criminal offence. The first such case of motor fraud was detected in January on the bike to a young Belgian competitor at the cyclo-cross World Championships. The 19-year-old was banned for six years and fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000/18,180 euros).

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