Zwift Racer Caught Cheating Using Recent Weight Changing Hack

ZwiftHerdWhiteOutArrow

Well, that didn’t take long. Zwift’s official race partner, WTRL, has seemingly disqualified their first individual for using the recently published mid-race weight-changing cheat. The individual cheated last night during Race 8 of this season’s WTRL Zwift Racing League event. He was competing in the EMEA West Division, C1 (Men’s/Mixed), as part of a team. While the rider was disqualified, the team he was competing with was not, and the leader of said team made a statement on Facebook apologizing for said rider.

For those not caught-up yet on this whole absolutely splendid kerfuffle, last week a cheat was widely disclosed that allows someone to change their weight mid-race using the Zwift companion app, such as to shed weight during a climb. However, as long as that person changed their weight back to the original weight by the end of the race, then nothing was flagged. Zwift ultimately responded on Saturday, saying that they’re actively working on implementing a fix to block this.

What’s fascinating here is that someone actually bothered to use this cheat, despite the fact that both Zwift and WTRL said they were now actively monitoring for it, and in WTRL’s case, even said that they’ve been monitoring for it for over a year now (albeit, without disqualifications or even noting it).

Interestingly, the exact wording here in the definition codes seems to indicate that in order for someone to be considered cheating, they have to “beneficially” update their weight (making themselves lighter). Thus the implication is that if you make yourself heavier (thus, it’s harder for you), it’s OK. Though, I’d think that would be difficult too – since on a stage that finishes downhill, making yourself heavier would actually be beneficial. Either way, I thought it was a notable distinction.

VertificationType

As part of this disqualification, the rider was listed in the recent incident not just as disqualified, but with DQ code 666. An ironic code to give for sure, given all the numbers that WTRL would have at its disposal. You can see the DQ code displayed below. In this case, I’ve used White-Out to remove the offender’s name. I don’t know this person, but I also don’t see any reason to have this site be grounds for lynching CAT C weeknight racing riders, no matter their ills.

ZwiftHerdWhiteOutArrow

In terms of what happens to the White-Out rider next? Well, to begin, Zwift Power has pulled the rider from the race results (not even listed as a DQ).

Then I asked Zwift, who first noted that they are seeing some riders actively ‘testing’ this over the last few days, and have been monitoring it. In terms of penalties for this particular cheat,  Zwift’s Chris Snook said:

“As you can imagine the disciplinary process is something that is being discussed. There is an element of human discretion involved in the process but a user could expect to receive an email containing a warning from Zwift. Repeat offenses following such a warning would result in a shadowban for a minimum of a week.”

Though, the usefulness of this particular cheat will likely be short-lived, as Zwift says they’re hoping to have a fix in place this week, thus blocking the cheat.

With that, thanks for reading. And thanks to DCR reader Erin for pointing this one out!

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29 Comments

  1. Luciano Pollastri

    Ha! Full stop.

  2. andre

    should have changed his height, since weight gets all the attention now.

  3. Sean Sloan

    I’ve used Zwift since the beta days and I’ll still never understand how anyone can take cartoon racing so seriously enough to cheat.

    • dan

      YES! exactly this.

    • Fred Stig

      Precisely because the stakes are so low.

    • Frederic

      I am wondering the exact same thing, just why…. When they play Mario Kart they cheat as well ??

    • Mike Richie

      I’m not sure if you are aware, but in the gamer world there are even whole web sites dedicated to game “cheats”. They are actually built into the games by the developers. This game cheat is very much like in-game “cheats” used to gain experience points in many FPS games. I could easily see a non serious athlete deciding to use a cheat like this to “win” a race, without thinking it is a big deal. It is actually the degree to which both Zwift and many of their users take this that make this such a big deal – it is, after all, cartoon racing, right?

  4. Paul Himes

    Another way that adding weight is beneficial is if you’re close to a mandatory cat up (or single event disqualification limits) and don’t want to go over the W/kg line. In that case you’d change your weight to add weight right before the end of the race and not change it back. Or don’t. Please don’t. Just don’t. As with the other cheat, this was discussed on Reddit over a year ago because it results in a W/kg value listed at the end that’s actually lower than what you took advantage of during the race.

    • Luciano Pollastri

      Exactly. Typical sandbagger practice. Adding kilo by kilo to avoid going beyond the w/kg threshold in the category. And then the same might they are upgraded from B to AZ that very same nights they have a stomach flu and they lose 6kg. In one night ….
      Tons of examples I have

  5. When I see C category and cheat it always blows my mind. We are all legends in our own minds. Ha!

  6. Jon Tiktin

    Its also worth noting that this was not the only 666 dq this week, being a C1 racer myself i had looked through earlier races and there we 2 other 666’s, I’m sure there were others in other grades and divisions.

    I’m sure that they are relieved that the Herd racer being highlighted is taking all the flak (and deserved) for them as well

  7. James

    The response by Zwift is shameful. If you’re caught cheating you get a warning the first time and possibly a shadowban for a week for subsequent offenses!?!? This punishment seems fit for a 3 year old, not an adult. If someone is caught cheating they should be banned from Zwift racing for at least a year. If hope once Zwift is done with their discussion and establishes and guidelines for specific offenses, their punishments will be more realistic than what’s stated in the article above.

    • Yeah, I think for AG’ers there’s probably some balance to be had on bans and warnings.

      Take this cheat for example. I could actually see a very common scenario where someone is specific training to lose weight – and hyper-focused on that goal over the course of a season. With a weekly race series like this, I could easily see someone getting 5-10 mins into the race and realizing “Oh crap, I forgot to update my weight with the slightly lower weight this week”, and simply using the companion app to do it.

      I don’t believe there’s anything in the rules that says one can’t have the correct weight.

      Of course, it’s also probable and more likely (especially if the person changes the weight back) that the individual is cheating. But the point being, banning someone on a weight-loss journey merely for correctly updating their weight mid-race wouldn’t go over well.

      Whereas, sending them a one-time warning explaining the issue, along with a DQ, would seem reasonable. Subsequent instances would deserve harsher punishment.

      (Obviously, once Zwift fixes this particular item, this particular cheat goes away. But there are plenty of others out there.)

    • Marty

      Fully understand and get this Ray, hopefully they’ll remove the weight option from the companion, forcing you to only change weight in-game, and before or after rides. Gets rid of the in-ride changes. Done. Eric Min – gimme a job!

    • David B

      In the cheat they return to the original heavier weight at the end of the race, so not the same as just updating the weight mid race and keeping it that way.

    • It’s actually unclear though if WTRL can differentiate between a single or double weight change. The assumption on how they detect this today is simply by doing math on the watts/kg vs power averages, and whether those line-up.

      Either way, according to Zwift, the cheat has been blocked as of a few hours ago.

  8. Andrew

    Kind of pathetic that people cheat in Cat C? Obviously a few people were unaware that they couldn’t cheat anymore and Zwift’s response to all of this demonstrates to me that they don’t actually care.

    • Matthew

      If you race in real life, you quickly discover that the Cat C field is actually the one most likely to have cheaters and sandbaggers.

  9. Claudio

    So WTRL has been knowing of this bug since one year and they did nothing? And now since it was published, they are taking measures??? This is ridiculous…

  10. Jeremy Hopwood

    There was another code 666 in America’s West B2 as well

  11. CA

    Their balance is for profits.Ban a subscription, lose money. Same reason they keep zpower around. Same reason fence zapping is not fixed.
    That’s it.

    You don’t accidentally do this cheat.

  12. Angstrom

    Zwift pushes out patch:
    link to velonews.com

  13. Joe Gribben

    Serious (sort of) question:

    Besides the satisfaction of winning/higher placement in a digital race… what is the motivation to use this cheat?

  14. Colin

    I’m still not clear how the races work in Zwift – I often see people with lower W/kg ahead of me. Appreciate that they may not always have a low w/kg but I feel like I’m working harder than other people. 🙂

    • MacroPhotoFly

      On the flat pure watts (regardless of your weight) produces the speed – so w/kg is less relevant. A 100kg individual pushing out 200W is going to be faster on the flat than a 50kg individual pushing out 100W. Also your height impacts frontal resistance calculations and hence speed.

    • Colin

      Thanks for explaining