Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Unsuperhuman Armstrong

Looking at what I wrote yesterday, I realize the real problem is not Lance Armstrong. On the road, he’s better than all the other cyclists in the field, at least in the Tour de France. In ethics, he isn’t. He’s just as human as the rest of the pack; no better, no worse.

I heard an interview on the radio with another former (French) cyclist whose view of the organizers of the Tour was exactly what I was alluding to yesterday. He said more or less openly that drug use is rampant, but that still, no one wants to admit it. Every time someone is caught, he’s portrayed as an isolated case. At no time has the Société du tour de France had the courage to stand up and say, “Drug use is rampant in our sport. This is very bad for the health of the professional cyclists involved, for our image and for the millions of young people who look up to the riders as heroes. We’re going to stamp out the problem.” That would cost too much in lost sponsorship.

By the way, the newspaper L’Equipe is owned by the same company that “owns” the Tour. The cyclist interviewed found it very convenient for everyone that L’Equipe “revealed” this information a month after the Tour ended rather than before or during it. After all, the laboratory began analyzing the samples at the end of last year. This way, L’Equipe gets to “break” the scandal and attract a lot of attention to its brilliant investigative reporting, without compromising the Tour itself.

For that matter, nowhere in the article was there any indication of who the other six EPO-tainted samples belonged to or how widespread the problem might have been in that particular year. For example, it would be interesting to know the percentage of riders in the 1999 Tour de France who were on EPO.



At 11:49 AM, Blogger Warrior said...

I believe a guy from Ireland called Paul Kimmage(???) wrote a book on the subject, he was a "failed" cyclist as he refused to take drugs, as far as I know. It might be worth tracking the book down if you can?


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