back to article Virtual cycling service bans riders for doping – doping their data, that is

Virtual cycling company Zwift has banned two riders for fiddling with data they uploaded to the service, and which helped them to do better in races. Zwift allows cyclists to race each other in a virtual world – after first bolting their bikes to a static trainer that allows them to pedal without going anywhere while measuring …

  1. jake Silver badge

    How sad do you have to be ...

    ... to fucking cheat on an exercycle in the comfort of your own home?

    The mind absolutely boggles.

    Come to think of it, how sad do you have to be to subscribe to a service to pedal an exercycle in the first place?

    1. BenM 29 Bronze badge

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      about as sad as those who cheat at online games... and then attempt to justify their cheating by saying they were only exploiting a feature.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: How sad do you have to be ...

        Well, since there are currently no group rides and no races it is for some a good way to get some social contacts. The other thing is that just sitting on the bike in your room and pushing the pedals is dull (in my opinion), just as running on a treadmill is mind numbingly dull. Having others in similar situation could make this more enjoyable.

        I personally prefer riding outside, even in inclement weather and alone, but I also do miss the group rides.

        Cheating at sports: as soon as there is something to gain from it, people will cheat, whether it is as kids with snakes and ladders (or whatever), or adults with their tax declarations, or athletes at sports, at any level. You did not lose to your little brother at Monopoly, you get some "free" money from the gubmint, you are the first crossing the line and everybody cheers for you, you get a certain standing as an athelete in your club, people admire you. So yes, there is a motivation for cheating, and I think it is inherent in human behaviour.

        What makes me really sad is age groupers ("amateurs", non-professionals, though some do train almost like pros) doping. This is a hobby you should enjoy, and you don't even get a great purse from the race, nor do you attract sponsors like crazy, it's just not worth wrecking your body even more. Plus I do not want those back in any competition. Ever. (though there is something like atonement...), half a year ban is just nothing (and I deleted the rest).

        Don't get me started on cheating pro athletes, I deleted a whole paragraph (again).

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

          And how much social contact do you have riding your bike in your living room (garage/whatever) ?

          1. dinsdale54

            Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

            In Zwift? Loads. I'm riding with several hundred other people and chatting with them on discord at the same time.

            It's the whole point of Zwift.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

              "It's the whole point of Zwift.

              Tim: "Hey Bobby!"

              Bobby: "What's Up Tim!!"

              Tim: "Look'n gooood!!!"

              Bobby: "So's that new coffee pot baby!"

              Tim: "You know it! Love those new curtains!!"

              Bobby: "We're looking pretty good!!!"

              Tim: "Good job!!!"

              1. MiguelC Silver badge

                Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

                Your point being?

                If that's the things Tim and Bobby want to discuss, that's perfectly OK. Others will do otherwise, and that's the whole point of social interaction - to interact!

                1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

                  More realistic:

                  Me: cough wheeze, new curtains ?

                  Him: gasp, pant, yes

                  Me: groans,vomits, nice !

            2. jake Silver badge

              Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

              Chatting with several hundred people all at once?

              Now THAT must be a highly productive conversation ...

          2. Keven E

            Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

            "Having others in similar situation could make this more enjoyable."

            That sounds kinda *unscocial... quite schadenfreude(y), actually.

          3. jake Silver badge

            Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

            "And how much social contact do you have riding your bike in your living room (garage/whatever) ?"

            Absolutely none. And when I was rehabbing my knees, I liked it that way. Got a lot of coding and reading done without being bothered by a bunch of over-excited, easily amused wierdos who somehow think they can mimic riding through the Alps when they are actually in their basement.

          4. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

            Re: it is for some a good way to get some social contacts

            "And how much social contact do you have riding your bike in your living room (garage/whatever) ?"

            Right now in lockdown? About the most social contact you're allowed to have. In lockdown, zwift and so forth are to cycling what zoom parties are to going down the pub with friends - no replacement but for now it'll do.

      2. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

        Re: How sad do you have to be ...

        I play COD quite a lot and I don't understand people who cheat. It makes no sense to me.

        Where's the fun if the computer points the gun and pulls the trigger for you. Where's the fun if you can see all your enemies through walls.

        I accept it might be novel and perhaps even funny at first, but that's got to wear off pretty quickly.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      Come to think of it, how sad do you have to be to subscribe to a service to pedal an exercycle in the first place?

      Some people like to exercise solo. Some like to exercise in groups. Zwift (et al) allows people who like group exercise to get their hiit during lockdown.

      Just 'cause you don't use/like a service doesn't mean it's a waste of time & money.

    3. Jay 2

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      The mind does indeed boggle at people who are willing to cheat at such things. This article covers some of the more high-end/tech related type things that people do. But even at the lower end of the scale it's just as easy to misrepresent your weight, which would influence your power to weight ratio and therefore which racing category you should be in. I've done the odd low-level race for fun and it can be somewhat annoying when the "winner" of your category seems to have been producing a lot more w/Kg than should be allowed.

      Each to their own at to what they spend their time/money on, but in most cases people are using their own bikes on static trainers and pay a subscription to use the service, which in some cases makes it no different to having a gym membership or a premium Spotify account etc. As it's currently winter in the Northern hemisphere then riding a bike outside may not be as much fun, plus there's currently all the lockdown stuff. Platforms like Zwift allow you to ride/race/train without having to worry about things like the weather, the state of the roads and other road users. It's never going to be a full-on substitute for going outside, but it's a nice addition to have if you feel like it. Personally I use it over the winter months to keep the fitness levels up and get ready for when it's nice and sunny outside where the hard work will pay off (or at least things may not hurt as much).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How sad do you have to be ...

        >But even at the lower end of the scale it's just as easy to misrepresent...

        There is a lot of low level 'adjustment' going on.

        We see it a lot in youth races where we have real-world data comparing riders - and with some of these riders racing at the national level, we are continuing to get real-world data with which to compare Zwift data.

        Even after allowing for the simple fact that some riders don't get on with static riding(*) and some are early(or late) developers, some of the results are still surprising - suggesting some low-level tinkering, probably aided-and-abetted by parents...

        (*) It is well known that riders such as Mark Cavendish unperformed in the lab and would not have been selected for TeamGB, if they had only used this data...

        AC because...

    4. bigphil9009

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      How sad do you have to be to criticise other people's completely harmless choices? You miserable sod.

    5. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      It' no different from cheating at online gaming and people have been doing that for as long as online gaming has existed. The only difference between this and other online games is of course that at least you get some physical exercise.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: How sad do you have to be ...

        "It' no different from cheating at online gaming and people have been doing that for as long as online gaming has existed."

        People have been killed for cheating at games since time immemorial. Why is it that people think that cheating's OK all of a sudden, just because it's electronic?

        My gut feeling is because there is no actual social connection. The social aspect is a figment of the imagination.

    6. The Griff

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      It's worth bearing in mind that these riders are towards the elite end of the sport. So good performances on Zwift may result in sponsorship deals or even professional contracts. Not condoning the actions, but just pointing out there is a temptation there for those desperate to break into the professional ranks.

    7. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: How sad do you have to be ...

      Your subscript postscript cost you the downvotes, there. Zwift itself seems harmless, but as I clicked on the comments button, I was actually thinking "how sad do you have to be to edit a data stream ...", so I'm with you on that.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: How sad do you have to be ...

        Funnily enough when my biddy and I dive, the talk is, as you'd expect about the dive we've planned (unless we're at somewhere we know for practice/skills reminders). But, shock, horror, we also chew the fat about other topics from work, the weather, kids, other halves, sport, science, IT - you name it we will chat about it.

        We chat online the same. If we're planning a particularly challenging dive we plan it - gas mixes, planned deco, bailout regimes and so on.

        I can only imagine that some of you commenting the way you have must lead very lonely lives.

  2. trevorde Silver badge

    May the best cheat win

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/motorsport/52776028

    I also play a version of Solitaire which has a leader board for the least number of moves. Most scores are clustered around a minimum value, with only a spread of 2-3 moves covering the top 10. However, for some games, the lowest is 15 (!) lower than the next lowest. For one game, the lowest was 43 (!!) lower than the second score. If you have to cheat, at least make it believable.

  3. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    They call it e-cycling so I'd expect taking part with an e-bike, right? No need to fiddle the data.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Ecycling is where all these expensive bits of kit are hopefully going to end up when the millennials, hipsters & yuppies are bored with them.

      What? You prefer they wind up in your local landfill?

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        To be honest, I wouldn't mind if all those millenials, hipsters and yuppies end up in someone else's local landfill. Or did I misunderstand something?

  4. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Devil

    Re: cycling news

    "Even with their digital doping, the riders only placed fourth and sixth. ®"

    Seems there are some better cheaters out there. Is fitting an electric motor to your cycle a thing in this "sport" too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cycling news

      Belgian cyclist Femke Van den Driessche was banned for motor-doping in the Cyclo-cross World Championships in 2016. Two amateurs have since been caught doing it in road-cycling. Professional cycling certainly has checks for the presence of motors as part of scrutineering.

      If people start to take virtual-cycling seriously, then I'm sure someone will cheat with a motor here too.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: cycling news

      "Is fitting an electric motor to your cycle a thing in this "sport" too?"

      Absolutely. They've been doing it normal professional cycling for a while, leading to bikes having to be inspected and even x-rayed before big races. You'd have to be very optimistic about human nature to assume people aren't doing it under conditions where no-one else can actually see what you're doing. I suspect the tricky part would be getting the output low enough to be believable - if they're looking at your power output and heart rate, it's going to be very obvious things don't add up if you just stick a regular ebike on a stand. You'll want something that can be tuned to only put out 20W or so, so it's enough to get a significant boost in a race, but you'll still have to be working hard. I don't think many normal ebikes allow that kind of fine tuning, so it wouldn't be completely trivial for a random amateur doing it on the spur of the moment using off the shelf kit. Professionals who have turned to online racing during lockdown could, and almost certainly are.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: cycling news

        >tuned to only put out 20W or so

        What's that in Hamster wheels ?

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: cycling news

          Where as my last one would have been around 20kw, I did have one before of licence shredding performance.

          But I think large Jap 4 would be rather loud in your house.

          Lived furthest from work by a LONG way, but only took 20 minutes, hence the licence shredding.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: cycling news

          Apparently somebody measured it

          A hamster in a running wheel can generate up to 500 mW

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: cycling news

            Our Rottie loves his exercise wheel ... Sadly, though, he doesn't quite develop enough power to run the Heidelberg Windmill. He does, however, however, manage to keep this thing fully charged, with the help of an automotive alternator & attendant wiring. I have no idea how much power he generates every day, all I know is the box is fully charged whenever I reach for it. (I didn't pay for it, they sent it to me to evaluate ... before this one, they sent me the 500W version. Long and short: They work. Spendy, yes, but they last rattling around here at the ranch.)

            1. Roland6 Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: cycling news

              >Our Rottie loves his exercise wheel ...

              Clearly more reliable than the kid on their rocking horse for which I note Jackery don't give a charge time for..

            2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: cycling news

              Your Rottie must be quite a beast of a hamster! Which steroids did you feed it? Or, as they say: everything is bigger in the Americas.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: cycling news

                He weighs in at just about 115 pounds. No steroids needed, just good chow and clean living. The wheel is a copy of one that I saw somewhere in the South of England (Wales? It was many moons ago ...) that was supposedly used to provide power for a blacksmith's shop.

                1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
                  Paris Hilton

                  Re: cycling news

                  jake, I'm gullible and all. But starting to doubt that Rottie is a hamster. Capybara?

                  is that the being naïve icon?

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: cycling news

      I keep thinking I should get one of those for commuting.

      My local bike shop would be dismayed to see it: so I must read up on concealed designs :-)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cycling news

      Or, unlike the solitare cheaters referenced by another commentard above, they were smart enough to cheat believably. They could have juiced the numbers enough to be leading by highly implausible levels.

  5. MJI Silver badge

    I would have a go but

    I sold my GS years ago.

    Leaner law produced lots of very cheap 250s

  6. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Chilly Winter Months?

    In the chilly winter months I riding is still just as possible.

    Yes during the pandemic if you happen to be a competitive rider (I'm not) then it must be good to compete. But before the pandemic there was still plenty of competitive riding available - if all else fails get yourself a cyclocross bike.

    But social riding in winter still exists and at least none of those fair weather riders turn out.

    The real chore of riding in winter has always been the amount of cleaning you have to do. Which is why most all year riders have a winter bike so the salt doesn't destroy their pride and joy. And of course the proper winter riders probably own a fixed wheel bike which has a lot fewer moving parts to clean.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chilly Winter Months?

      >The real chore of riding in winter has always been the amount of cleaning you have to do.

      The not excessively expensive Worx hydroshot helps with that (ie. makes it less of a chore) - it took over the CX pits in the 2019-2020 session, displacing many trusty petrol pressure washers...

      >Which is why most all year riders have a winter bike so the salt doesn't destroy their pride and joy.

      Many serious CX riders get new bikes every couple of years...

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Chilly Winter Months?

        Around here serious CX riders get new kit several times per year, if they are working with a manufacturer or manufacturers. Neighbor's kid. Squeaky wheel & all that.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Chilly Winter Months?

      I'm not really the one to talk to about bad weather ... I'm still picking tomatoes and summer squash from last summer. However, I rode my bicycle to highschool when I lived in Yorkshire, 7 miles each way, in all weathers[0]. Until I was old enough to get a motorcycle, of course ... But I wasn't interested in socializing during the ride, I was just getting from point A to point B.

      [0] No, not uphill both ways ... stop it already.

  7. not.known@this.address

    Head for the hills!

    I believe these things have some sort of variable resistance technology to simulate things like hills, so maybe these two were merely going down Escher's eternal staircase while everybody else was going up it?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only Boris had thought of this... then he wouldn't have to 'do a cummings' (sorry, 'act totally within the current lockdown rules') and get spotted with his police entourage cycling 7 miles from home

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >get spotted with his police entourage cycling 7 miles from home

      Makes you realise just how small London really is... and how your perception of the distance between Downing St and Stratford has been skewed by congestion and public transport.

      My nearest supermarket is 8 miles away and I think of it as normal to cycle the 6 miles into my nearest town.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When 2 or more cyclists are gathered together...

    ...one of them will be cheating.

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