How Zwift and the UCI thwart cheating in high-level esports events –

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Connecting a power drill to your bottom bracket seems like an easy way to level-up and win races in Zwift, right? Racers should expect to get flagged for cheating in the game if they try shenanigans like this.

While miscalibrating or absent-mindedly forgetting to “zero” your trainer and power meter before racing in Zwift might be cause for a slap on the wrist — the results from a specific event may be annulled — intentionally trying to deceive the game or referees carries strict penalties, the most severe being a lifetime ban from Zwift Cycling Esports events.

While being ejected from the cycling virtual world may seem harsh, real-world consequences may carry even more serious penalties: Riders who are enrolled in anti-doping programs and who are found to be in violation when competing in Zwift face the same penalties as riders caught doping in real-world events.


But before you think that the Zwift experience is ruined by more rules and regulations, requiring the purchase of additional equipment, reporting whereabouts to drug testers, and proving your weight, understand that the most stringent rules only apply to the premier-level races.

Now, both Zwift and the UCI have extensive rules for top races like the upcoming esports world championships. Both organizations divide the infractions and punishments into three basic categories: non-intentional, intentional, and egregious — or, in Zwift’s language, “bringing the sport into disrepute.” The rules between the two organizations are not identical, but they do overlap quite a bit.

Categories of rule violations and penalties

Non-intentional infractions include things like incorrectly calibrated or dysfunctional equipment, and the penalty is basically a disqualification from the event(s) in question.

Intentional infractions include things like entering inaccurate height or weight, using external trainer control, failing to provide data, or lying to race officials. Penalties here range from disqualification from one event or series up to a year ban from Zwift and a lifetime ban from elite-level UCI events and a 5,000 Swiss Francs fine from the UCI.

And the third category of infractions includes things like tampering with either the game data or the equipment, such as mis-calibrating a trainer to report higher power, or hacking the game. The UCI will hand out one-year suspensions for a first offense, and a lifetime ban for a second offense. For its part, Zwift has a six-month ban for a first offense, a one-year ban for a second offense, and a lifetime ban for a third offense from Zwift Cycling Esports events.

Again, please note that these rules are aimed at elite-level competition, not the great majority of events where everyday…

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