Tour de Farce

I didn’t follow the Tour de France this year, largely due to the drugs scandal that preceded it. Among others, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, both billed as strong contenders to win this year’s Tour following Lance Armstrong’s retirement, were dropped by their respective teams on 30 June following a doping probe.

I tuned in to the latter stages of stage 19 (the time-trial) and watched the parade up and down the Champs-Elysees the following day, but otherwise wasn’t bothered; it didn’t matter.

And now the Tour’s provisional winner (for that must be what he is now) Floyd Landis has himself failed a drugs test. He was hailed by Armstrong after his win, who himself has been under the spotlight on the drugs front for many a year.

Cycling is in crisis. It needs to get harder on its testing and harder on its sanctions. Only then can it rise to the majesty that it enjoyed during the reign of Miguel Indurain.

It also needs some new characters. Laurent Jalabert, Marco Pantani, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Mario Cipollini, Claudio Chiappucci, Laurent Fignon, Eric Zabel, Djamolodine Abdoujaparov (spelt right first time, btw): all great and memorable characters of the sport. We need more like that, to take the sport out of the mess it’s currently in, and into an exciting new future.

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