Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Tour De Farce": Floyd Landis' Alleged Doping

We were all duped about a Tour without dope. Maybe. Call me cynical, but every time an American gets nailed for potential wrong-doing, I wonder. If the Europeans didn't hate, yea,verily loathe, Americans so much, if they didn't conspire in voting scandels against Americans, if they generally showed some vague sense of fairness to anything American, maybe I would believe these scandels right out of the gate.

Landis doping, is of course, plausible. "Everyone is doing it" doesn't seem to by a hyperbolic stretch. Landis and his bum hip made big news and big money for the Tour organizers. One wonders if they knew the results before and loved the story and let the sinner compete. Nah. That is going from cynical to conspiratorial.

A great editorial by Matt Seaton at the Guardian Unlimited caught my attention. He notes that Tour watchers voted with their fingertips and viewership was way down. He adds:

Many will feel, though, that the teams face both ways -- demanding the top results, but then freezing out the riders who feel they have no option but to dope in order to deliver them. The riders' attitude is that they are always the poor bloody infantry -- used, abused and ultimately expendable.

There is some truth in this, but it's time they got past that ancient sense of grievance. We've seen the riders exercise their power in the past with sit-down protests and the like when there's something they don't like -- such as dangerous racing conditions. Tackling doping is, if nothing else, about their livelihood and their health. The one thing that might change the present dismal vista of pro cycle sport would be for the riders themselves to organise and take a collective stand against doping. Declare an amnesty now, by all means, but then exercise zero tolerance; create a culture of whistle-blowing; and end the code of silence, the omerta, that protects the dope-cheats.

We'll see about Test B for Floyd Landis. In the meantime, we wait. The Tour, after Lance, might just sink back into irrelevance where it had been for a long time. Drugs or no drugs, it takes more than a bunch of guys in tight shorts riding for miles and miles and miles and miles to capture more than just the die-hard fans' attention. I see the future of the Tour De Force and it's the snooze button.

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