Anorak News | Lancing The Boil

Lancing The Boil

by | 28th, July 2003

‘GIVEN the amount of drugs that swill around cycling it’s a shock the winner of the Tour de France is not some 17-year-old youth called Wayne who keeps fit by freaking out in a barn on an Essex farm at the weekends.

‘Bottoms up’

This year’s winner of the gruelling race through the French countryside is Lance Armstrong. Lance is a drugs free zone, and has been for all the years he has been champion.

Indeed, all the riders bar one on the Tour were drug free this time round. This is a fantastic result, right up there with Armstrong’s five wins on the trot, given last year’s scandals.

In 2002, former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich was suspended for six months following testing positive for amphetamine.

Plucky Jan served his time and restored his pride and natural ability to come second in this year’s race. Hurrah!

Other 2002 drugs cheats, like French cyclist Laurent Paumier, Spain’s Igor Gonzalez Galdeano and the entire Italian team Saeco, who were thrown out of the 2002 Tour de France after their top rider Gilberto Simoni (84th) failed a second drugs test for cocaine metabolites, fared less well.

But how can so much cheating in 2002 become so little cheating in 2003? Are we to believe that a sport where competitors, allegedly, had EPO (short for erythropoieten, which raises the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood) injected into their stomachs is utterly clean?

Have our minds turned to mush after weeks of Big Brother? Of course they have.

To suppose that cycling is totally free from drugs is to suppose that that Big Brother will ever return to our screens for a fifth series. (We’ve just heard that it will).

The Tour makes for compelling viewing. But there is a whiff of something unpleasant in the air.

Our support for Armstrong’s epic achievement is somewhat tainted by our doubts that the sport is played on a level playing field – or even on a level mountain.

Posted: 28th, July 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink