60 Minutes Investigates Hidden Motors
The sport of cycling is notorious for its culture of cheating—made most famous by the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Now when cycling hopes to be cleansed of the dopers there’s a surprising new twist—riders enhancing the bike’s performance. Some professional racers aren’t putting steroids and blood boosters in their veins they’re hiding motors in their bike frames. We followed a lead to Budapest, Hungary, and met an engineer who said he built the first secret bike motor back in 1998. And he told us motors have been used in the Tour de France. Our story tonight is not about the latest drugs the riders are using to cheat…it’s all about enhancing the bike.
We contacted Armstrong’s former teammate Tyler Hamilton who has admitted to being part of all the chemical doping by members of the U.S. Postal team. And Tyler told us he never knew of any motors on the team back then.
In order to demonstrate the motors existed as far back as 1998, Stefano Varjas suggested to us that we find a carbon fiber 1999 U.S. Postal Service team bike, the same bike the U.S. Postal team used in the 1999 Tour de France. We bought this bike off the Internet and he installed a motor based on his first design into the bike. He charged us $12,000, saying that covered his costs for the parts and labor.