As the unraveling of the so-to-speak “cleansing” pre-race contract accelerates in this year’s Tour de France, you get the growing sense that the Tour de France is a sham, loaded with cotton-mouthed officials. I pity the poor souls who are actually riding clean. And, I think the history of the race and the performance of past greats is being slandered in the process of these continuing “discoveries.” Would seem to give new meaning Lance’s team “Discovery?” And yet, the truth of the matter is that everyone has been in the know and is somehow contaminated. When the 2007 race finishes, how quickly will the winner be denounced? The scandal has, indeed, become cosmic, if not comic, in proportion. The preamble at the Tour of Italy in June was the unhappy omen of things to come.
For the sake of posterity, I would encourage the professional bicycling community to take a break. I think the yearly buildup to the Tour de France has consumed too many minds; it involves too much money and is slogging through a political quagmire for a true purging. Give the pro circuit a break and a chance to clean up its act. This is hardly an easy task and financially troubling for the athletes involved, but the alternative may be driving the sport into the proverbial ground. Can you imagine : the WWCF. WorldWide Cycling Federation?
At the same time, if there were a serious action such as canceling a season, cycling could become the clarion call for all sports which have allowed, if not blindly encouraged, performance-enhancing doping. Baseball, football, rugby and, yes, even tennis, come to mind. The drugs have long lasting effects on the athletes (not least of which is diminishing sex drive, which will mean less progeny to revel in the family’s historical performance). The cycling fiasco is just the tip of the mountain top. There is too much money in too many sports causing abnormal behaviour. The magnificent riders of the past who, normally, rode via pure brute force and belong in the Tour de Fame, should not be dragged through the mud. Let’s clean the air once and for all (do I hear another ecological call?). Aspiring kids need a better example.