Cyclists Are Now Cheating In Video Games As Well As Real Life

Illustration for article titled Cyclists Are Now Cheating In Video Games As Well As Real Life
Image: Zwift

Cycling is a sport that is riddled with Lycra-clad cheats. It has been since the very beginning, and remains so to this day. So much so that even while stuck inside and competing in their sport virtually, cyclists are still cheating.

As this great Defector story sums up, loads of cyclists have been competing in the game Zwift lately, and surprised Pikachu face, they’re getting busted for breaking the rules, albeit in new and fascinating ways.

Zwift is a game in which you ride an actual exercise bike and then have your speed and actions reflected on the screen. Unlike versions you might have tried at the gym though, Zwift is an actual game, with competitors and tracks and graphics, and looks more like something you’d be playing on the Switch.

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Image: Zwift

Earlier this week Zwift’s “Performance Verification Board” slapped six-month bans on two of the best riders in the game. Israeli rider Antonina Reznikov was caught editing her data to make her on-screen performance 32% faster than her actual pedalling, while German rider Selma Trommer was caught doing the same thing for a 9% boost. Both riders initially disputed the Board’s findings before later buckling and saying, yeah, ok, we cheated.

And these are just the latest two. As Cyclingtips reports, Zwift has been struggling with cheating for a while now, particularly during the pandemic as professional cyclists—complete with sponsorships and a need to be seen to be performing well--flock to the game’s competitions.

To its credit, Zwift has been working on catching these cheats, as evidenced by the fact that...these two were caught? But hey, given over 100 years of historical precedent, the problem might lie less with the game and more with the players.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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This Defector site isn’t sticking to sports. I’m confused.