New Stimulant: Data Distortion Recorded In Virtual Sports Competition

2021-02-09   |   by CusiGO

On January 11, Antonina reznikov and 35 cyclists from all over the world held a virtual professional competition in zwift, a training platform that allows athletes from all over the world to exercise and participate in many competitions in their home lounges. Reznikov came in fourth. Or it determines the record she submitted on the application form, and soon after, she was kicked out of the system for six months. Zwift’s report said: “the performance review board believes that there is no doubt that the cyclist deliberately tampered with her data.”.

Since 2019, the company’s inspections have revealed that four athletes have tried to cheat in their careers and their accounts have been frozen. “It’s a problem that exists in all aspects of sports and life,” says Chris snook, zwift’s communications manager. Therefore, in the long-distance competition of the society where the epidemic is spreading, new forms of stimulants have emerged to change the use of substances by manipulating the measurement of digital platforms. Deception is as simple as cycling, it can only be done on foot, and it is so complex that it can forge the recorded data sent to the platform.

These strategies are not unique to epidemics, but they have become more common. “In San Silvestre vallecana in Madrid, international tests require the lowest score, and someone gives a friend a time control chip and asks him to make a specific score so that he can score,” comments Alex kalabog, IBERICA motorpress Racing Manager and sports team member. “We have been organizing virtual competitions since 2016. They were cleaner at the time because people thought it was a game. Now, without a real game, people want to win. We’ve found all kinds of deception attempts, some people have, some don’t

The cost of these tricks depends on the stakes. In a charity competition, the prize is only the recognition of the contestants. Cheating will damage the morale of themselves and the contestants. “That’s bullshit. You end up cheating yourself into getting a diploma,” explains karaboug, who last year joined in organizing and tracking a virtual version of a woman’s career at the central dairy farm in Asturias, where more than 41000 people signed up. “This test is always more interesting, there are not many attempts to cheat. But we do find that all cities have fake weather, “he commented.

In zwift, the impact is even more critical: since its launch in 2014, the platform has more than 3.2 million registered users; since 2019, the platform has been organizing espots and held a virtual tour de France in last year’s fund-raising activities for charity. “There are usually cash rewards, and as the sport matures and becomes serious, more teams get sponsored,” snooker said. In this case, virtual dating is very important for participants’ sports career development, and the task of screening hooligans has become the primary task.

The removal of reznikov’s performance review board – which, by the way, he finally admitted – was the last resort to arrest the swindlers. Before and during professional competitions, a monitoring network was deployed, including random checks, focusing on the top three of each competition and the possibility of investigating suspicious cases. In this category, cyclists have to submit historical power measurements for two different devices. These records, along with pulse, rhythm, speed, height and weight, are integrated into a database that identifies each athlete’s abilities and, if there are differences, excludes him from the competition before he steps on the pedal.

In addition, the platform requires the applicant to submit a video to confirm the accuracy of height and weight. These videos are manually input: the measurement must be recorded, and after weighing, the weight change will be displayed when adding 10kg ballast to prove its good calibration. If any abnormality is found at the end of the competition, it will be checked by the inspection committee: when the equipment (pulse meter does not work) has technical failure, the contestant will be disqualified; if malicious behavior is found, he will be expelled for six months. The next violation will lead to a year of exile, and the third attempt to cheat will lead to a permanent blockade of the platform.

In these areas, the cost of the equipment each athlete needs to record his performance and prove his innocence becomes a barrier to entry. “No way. If you compete at the highest level, you need to have a system to verify your performance, “snooker admits. In the best case, buy a roller, a pulse meter and a power, speed and rhythm meter, or a smart bike, all of which will be undertaken by sponsors from different teams. In the worst case, the minimum expenditure will be around 500 euros (excluding bicycles), and it will exceed 2000 euros if smart bicycles are chosen. “Once you have a team, the cost of playing is the lowest compared to traditional sports because you’re at home,” zwift spokesman matiza said From this point on, the need to invest in tourism disappeared, and the only expense on the horizon was a 14 Euro monthly subscription to the platform.

What’s cheaper is competition and love of art. Outside the major league, a GPS phone is enough. “If you run faster than me, I can give you my mobile phone and let you run,” said Abraham Serra, chief executive of sportmaniacs, which provides the technology to organize and track face-to-face and virtual games, and allows participants in the latter format to communicate with each other Strava’s training.

In track and field, the competition is more difficult to be carried out outdoors, with less measuring equipment and more spacious space: each contestant will run within the specified time and record his performance on his mobile phone or smart watch. Sella explained that GPS tracking can control whether the distance meets the requirements, and it does not mean any other form of transportation, but if the route to be taken is free, some details will be missed: “people can find favorable routes, which is completely legal: slope, curve, direction change… That’s why we’ve developed pre-defined running routes so that everyone can run in similar situations. ”

Snooker admits that zwitt’s control is more relaxed in amateur Games: “it’s complicated to do it on a large scale. We’re talking about thousands of bicycles and racing cars. ” If any competitor is found to have more than “human possible” parameters based on their history, their avatar will be slowed down and marked as a shame cone visible to other competitors. In addition, recidivist cheaters face an invisible risk so that they can use the app without destroying the fun of others.

In this woman’s career, exposing cheaters requires one-on-one investigation of suspicious records. “We wrote to these people and asked them about their previous race records to see if they were progressing normally. The people we met suddenly ran 5K in 15 minutes, and their normal time was 30 minutes,” calabouig recalled. In the first virtual treadmill race, all participants were asked to record their participation in addition to the previous scores. “There was more cleaning, and there were traps in it, and I’ll tell you that no one protested the disqualification,” he stressed.

For the future, zwift is considering the establishment of machine learning based control systems, which will also monitor a large number of fans playing on the platform. Serra confirmed that at sportmaniacs, they do not rule out doing so. Karaboug is not too worried. “None of our tests is more meaningful than trying to motivate people and make them enjoy it.” As long as the epidemic continues, this form will remain the only alternative to filling the streets. London Marathon organization has confirmed that its goal is to hold a mixed race in the 2021 edition, which is scheduled to be held on October 3. The organization has set a Guinness record of 37966 24-hour long-distance marathons in 2020. There are 50000 viewers and 50000 viewers all over the world. “The core is still the physical profession, but the virtual profession will continue because organizations have found that it’s an additional business approach,” calabouig said.

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