Zwift has banned an informant for publishing details of a powerful doping deception

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Zwift found itself embroiled in a doping scandal and a consistent reaction after banning the informant who started it, the day before UCI World E-Sports Championship. ZwiftInsider reports that one of its members, Luciana Palastrahas revealed a simplified and effective weight doping hack that makes the racer virtually unmatched in the Zwift virtual world.

Zwift calculates speed based on a combination of power, weight and rider size. As a result, the weight change in Zwift can have a drastic effect on a rider’s virtual avatar speed, especially when lifting. Prohibited in the rules and regulations of Zwift, doping with weight – is an act of inaccurate and reduced body weight on Zwift. Naturally, this can greatly improve a racer’s ability to climb, and so Zwift is taking steps to ensure the racer’s weight accuracy for online racing.

Hacking makes inaccurate weight cheating to ridiculously simple and virtually impossible to detect in regular Zwift races. Increased control in major events makes hacking detectable. We decided not to publish the exact details of the hacking or the ways to implement it, but it allows you to temporarily reduce the weight if the rider wishes. In the language of Zwift: imagine a lightweight PowerUp, immeasurably more powerful and accessible at any time. If used to its full potential, the hack can turn any Zwift race into a circus.

Hacking seems to evade the Zwift racer’s current weight checks using a loophole in the software. The potentially powerful hacking effect is repulsive, but it’s the ease of use that’s most terrifying. Ever since the start of the Tour de France, when riders relied on trains, the scam was not so powerful but simple, but even he had a much better chance of being caught.

According to ZwiftInsider, Zwift and ZADA (Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis Group) have known about the cheat since at least January 2021, but have not yet released a patch to prevent it.

When contacted by CyclingTips, Zwift stated that a product team is currently working on the fix. Until now, this issue was relatively unknown.

Luciano Palastra had a plan to check, document and report the fraud to Zwift headquarters. During the investigation, Palastra reported the hacking of a private group Discord. Palastri claims that the group’s response showed him that the hack was not only well known in the Zwift community, but also ZADA and Zwift were informed of its existence “years ago”.

Full details of what happened are available in the message at ZwiftInsider.com. A short version of events – Pollastri published the hack on a new, special WordPress site, and then in a message on Reddit (again, we intentionally do not publish links to where the deception is described in detail). Palastra’s actions forced Zwift to temporarily “ban” him from the platform for 30 days. The shadow ban allows the user to continue using the platform and see other users during the ban, but the banned user is not visible to other users and is not reflected in the race results.

“The ban itself does not prevent him from using the platform – he can still Zwift, join events and participate in races,” said Chris Snook, PR director at Zwift. “The ban, however, does not allow him to show other users in Zwift events and races, and he is not shown in the race results – in fact, he can participate but not interact or influence the experience of others during these 30 days.”

Palastri defended himself, noting that many users already knew about the hacking, and Zwift did little to prevent it, it seems little that helped his cause. Zwift suggested that further advertising of the hacking violated it Terms of service, in particular section 5vii. Snook explained in detail the justification for the ban, explaining that “the punishment is not for checking the cheat, but for actively spreading fraud.”

Posts on Facebook, Reddit topics, Zwift forum topics caught fire while discussing the cheat. Some, including the Zwift forum topic, have since been removed. As to why the messages were deleted, Zwift said: “[The Zwift Forum thread]… Contained information on how to use the exploit. It is forbidden to spread such information on Zwift forums, so this post has been deleted.

A new publication that avoids a detailed description of the method of deception has since emerged.

Palastra claims to have investigated the hack and published it with good intentions. He claims he wanted the racing community to learn about the hack to help eliminate it. Polastri is or at least has been an avid fan of Zwift and a fan of the platform. However, his decision to publish the hack, knowing its effectiveness, ease of use and potential impact on the racing community, has always been the opposite. It has undoubtedly exposed the deception to many users who may have never heard of it. I didn’t have to.

As for its detection, Snook explained that the Zwift product team is working on a fix, and a fix is ​​expected soon. Challengers for tomorrow’s World E-Sports Championship there is no need to consider the use of cheats because, Snook said, “this is something that can be detected and will not be a factor.”

Zwift has banned an informant for publishing details of a powerful doping deception

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