By the time the Tour de France finally rolls into
If you haven't read the pharmaceutical sports news today, here's the latest. Following a spectacular stage win in the Pyrenees yesterday, yellow jersey-d race leader Michael Rasmussen of team Rabobank was fired by his team for lying about his where-abouts when he missed a mandatory pre-Tour drug test in June (he also "missed" two other random drug controls this spring).
This comes right after two teams in two days were forced to drop out of the race because a riders either a) tested positive for synthetic testosterone, or b) got illegal blood transfusions. The rider who got the illegal blood transfusion, Alexandre Vinokourov, is one of the world's best road cyclists and odds were good he would have won the Tour.
Tour officials and French authorities made it no secret that testing during this year’s Tour was going to be unrelenting and rigorous – making Vinokourov and the others not only cheaters, but also a fine example of why they call it "dope." They had to know they'd be caught.
Anybody who follows cycling is undoubtedly disappointed, but far from surprised by this turn of events at the
Tour. The sport has been dirty for
years, and is arguably the dopey-iest of all sports (although I still believe the innocence of the most tested athlete on the planet, Lance Armstrong, who has never, EVER failed a drug test).
In an extremely emotional interview on VeloNews.com, British cyclist David Millar is asked "isn't the bottom line that we cannot tolerate this s--t anymore?" "Nobody's trying hard enough...nobody's f----in' trying hard enough," Millar says. "And that's what's pissing me off. And yea, I preach and I do take this all very personally and strongly. These young riders coming through who are believing that it's getting cleaned up that it's getting better are now seeing that it's not. What do they think? It's disgusting."
Sports of all sorts are tainted by doping. I don’t have to recount the problems baseball and football have with steroids. Swimming, wrestling, weight lifting, gymnastics – heck – even golf is stained. At the British Open yesterday, nine time major champion Gary Player told the press he knows of at least one current player who is taking steroids.
What’s it going to take to clean up sports? Cyclist Millar may be right when he says a generational shift may be the only answer. In Texas starting this fall, high school – that’s right – high school football players face random testing for steroids. Coming soon: T-ballers peeing in a cup?
Pressure isn’t just going to have to come from coaches, leagues and legislators. It’s going to have to come from us – the fans. Don’t like pharmaceutical sports? Don’t support them. Don’t buy tickets. Don’t buy merchandise. Don’t watch ‘em on TV.
Easier said than done.
But a sea change among cycling fans may be underway. Prior to getting kicked out of the race
yesterday, thousands of fans who lined the mountain roads of
Where does all this leave cycling? Well, as far as the Tour goes, it's a whole new race starting today, with 24-year old Spaniard Alberto Contado of Team Discovery now leading the race, followed by Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa in third.
As long time cycling commentator and writer Phil Liggit blogs on Versus.com (the cable channel officially covering the Tour), "Thank heavens none of these three riders have ever been remotely suspected in dealing with drugs and could now turn out to be the race’s saviors. (It's) going to be a strange day."
What are your feelings about cheating and drug use in sports today? Who or what is to blame? As a fan, do you think you play a role in changing things? Click below on "Comments" and share your thoughts and opinions.
Your cheatin' heart
will make you weep
You�ll cry and cry
and try to sleep
But sleep won�t come
the whole night through
Your cheating heart will tell on you