I say “Good” about this
Tour de France drug scandal and I’ll tell you
The Tour de France specifically, and
cycling in general is obviously a dirty sport. Men
are cheating to win. They are cheating to survive
in the sport. While you can debate the morality and
ethics of using performance enhancing drugs the fact
of the matter is the current rules forbid the use
of specific banned substances and practices. If you
use those items or training techniques, you are breaking
the competitive rules.
In sport, unlike in the
rest of life, we do enjoy the ethical luxury of black
and white. You break the rules, you cheated, you should
be sanctioned. We need to keep that ethos in sport.
Unlike love, war and business sport remains the last
bastion of fairness and honor- until someone lies
and cheats, then they ruin that too.
So I say “Good”.
I am glad the Tour de France and the teams in attendance
have been heavy handed in their recent treatment of
athletes. The new attitude toward doping is zero tolerance,
and the departure of Vinokourov’s entire team,
the removal of other riders with nefarious dealings
or positive tests and the wholesale dismissal of Rasmussen
despite his position in the race sends a clear message:
If you are even suspected of doping you are out. Good.
Cycling won’t be healed over night.
A culture of athletes who believe they can subvert the system
and still cheat will continue. For a while, then they will
be booted too. I hope they are cowering now. The Tour de
France and their new Director Christian Prudhomme have shown
they are strong enough in their convictions to act with
lightening response. There is no due course, no gray area.
Remember, Rasmussen didn’t test positive for anything.
He simply misrepresented his whereabouts and wasn’t
available for testing. His eviction from the Tour by his
team shows this cavalier attitude won’t be tolerated
by the Tour organization and by pro team management anymore.
There is something nearly religious about
our reverence for sport. When Rasmussen attacked Contador
on the Col d’ Aubisque I actually did begin to cry
because it was so wondrous, so perfect, so utterly magical
and majestic. This is the stuff fiction is made of- the
conquering hero. Eh gad, the man had been on his bike six
hours and he still managed that incredible effort up the
Aubisque. It was being sold to me as fact, but it was fiction.
I was defrauded. While I am disappointed it was a snow job
I am happy Team Rabobank booted Rasmussen on suspicion of
doping. It means when we see an effort like that again it
is much more likely we can be certain we are seeing the
real thing- something we can believe in. Something to inspire
I’ve read opinions on forums and in
newspapers that the Tour de France is ruined. No, I say
this is a new beginning. This is the rounding of the bend
toward a new Tour with new cyclists who train hard and long,
eat carefully and maintain a strict regimen. And when they
turn a pedal they do it with honor as fine sportsmen. We
are witnessing the rebirth of the sport of cycling and of
the Tour de France. Right now it’s going through a
necessary transformation that will purge the cheats once
and hopefully for all. I am not naïve enough to imagine
new riders won’t attempt to cheat, but I am confident
enough to believe they will be apprehended quickly. The
actions in this year’s Tour de France have shown this
to be the precedent.
Odds are we haven’t seen the last
of the drug scandals. New and old information will continue
to surface as the purge continues. Each time it happens
we can hold these incidents high as one more step toward
a clean sport. I look forward to that and to rest of this
Tour de France and the next. I say “Good”, let’s
clean it up at get back to standing in awe of incredible