South African web software developer and top Zwift racer Eddy Hoole, 37, has been found guilty of delibrately cheating at a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) eSports World Championships qualifier race on 13 November and subsequently banned from Zwift’s virtual racing platform.

During the world championship qualifying race, Hoole (racing for pro/elite Team Toyota CRYO RDT) broke away from the pack at the bottom of the finishing climb to fly past the leaders and solo to victory, earning him a prized 2023 UCI eSports World Championship starting bib. His record setting super-human performance included a four-minute average power of 526 watts on the final climb, equating to a power output of 8.5 W/kg and a VO2 max estimated over 90 mL/min/kg.

Zwift’s Performance Verification Decision Board investigated Hoole’s data and issued a reasoned decision on the matter, “These values are significantly greater than those that have been measured for Olympic Pursuit Champions and World Record Holders (average power output over 4min, approx. 7.5 W/kg) or Tour de France GC winners (VO2max, approx. 85 mL/min/kg). The Board is comfortably satisfied that this was a result of deliberate manipulation of data, masked by the deliberate disconnection of the Zwift analytics datastream channel.”

Then the board added the final blow to Hoole’s virtual dreams of pulling on a UCI eSports World Championship rainbow jersey, “there is no circumstantial evidence that might suggest that the rider is a globally significant World Class athlete. For example, the rider does not have any IRL [in real life] cycling (or other IRL sport) results, and their typical training load amounts to around three hours a week of low intensity cycling on Zwift.”

As a professional Web Software Developer, Hoole likely had the technical skills, and apparently the need, to develop and insert software in the data stream between his power meter and Zwift’s servers, allowing him to change IRL data and artificially boost Zwift power output.

Hoole’s LinkedIn bio seems to underscore a desire to apply technical skills to IRL situations, like trying to win a world championship – by cheating,“There is no better class room than that of applying the knowledge one has learnt into real life application.”

The UCI has not yet commented on Hoole’s e-doping, but sanctions are likely coming soon from the Cycling South Africa organization and the UCI. Zwift has banned him (only from elite races) until 12 May 2023, though he may still ride on the platform and race in non-elite events – just like IRL dopers can race in amateur gran fondos.

Photo Credit: Team Toyota CRYO RDT, Hoole Instagram