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Le Tour de France 2008

As a Francophile I can’t help it but follow Le Tour de France every year, although I don’t consider myself as a sportive type though. Ok, I do sport, I jog 2x/week 5 km just to stay fit and I bike to my work everyday, that’s it!

About le tour I begin to wonder whether this cycling event has lost its credibility since 3 cyclers (Riccardo Ricco, Manuel Beltrán and Moisés Dueñas) were caught on using EPO yesterday. I mean, ok, this is a very tough sport, 21 days on your bike, climbing the hills ( Les Pyreneen & Les Alpes), passing the heat between the vineyards in Bordeaux and having your sponsor driving you crazy as a cyclist to set yet a sharp record as possible at the finish. The pressure is undescribable. The temptation is strong to get yourself an injection of EPO but does this justify the spirit of sport?

Since the last 10 years, Le Tour has been bothered by several doping cases. OK, French authorities and the International Cycling Union (UCI) have strengthen the regulations controlling the use of doping ever since but still there are cyclers who dare to take the risk. Last year was Michael Rasmussen, a Danish cycler who couldn’t explain his whereabouts the last three days before he participated in this tour. Not only cyclers but top athletes have to explain their whereabouts everyday. This is one of strict regulations on fighting against doping.

In 2006, USA was ecstatic with yet another American winner of Le Tour, Flloyd Landis, after the seven times USA winner Lance Armstrong. But this euphoria didn’t last long. After a countercheck, there was a track of EPO in his blood, so bye bye Le Tour for Landis. Armstrong was also hunted by French Authority & UCI on this doping issue during his years as a cycler but never proven positive on using EPO. Armstrong’s theory about this matter is a French conspiracy against him personally.

What about Richard Virenque? This French cycler insisted on his innocence even after the doctor of his team, Festina, was found with a great stock of EPO at the team’s hotel in 1998. Several months after this, Virenque admitted he used this doping.

So, Am I wrong to think that Le Grande Tour has lost its credibility? It is a very shameful situation. Le Tour is not just a sport event but is inextricably bounded up with France. I enjoy to see the idyllic landscapes during the étappes, the colours of the jerseys the cyclers wear and the last round in Paris at the last day of the Tour.

After learning the news about these newest doping cases this year, my reaction was ok, they caught the bad guys. I got used to this. Le Tour continues ……. with a slight of unpleasant taste.


2 thoughts on “Le Tour de France 2008

  1. You are definitely right about lost credibility.

    But we should not forget Ben Johnson and all the other athletes, male and female( especially short track athletes, 100 meters, 200 meters) from the US and Jamaica, that have been caught. Or wrestlers and weightlifters from the Balkans, swimmers from China, American football players from, yes indeed, the US. And only last week Vroemen, a Dutch athlete. To name just a few.

    The problem however is not about “Le Tour de France” and cycling. Doping is a problem of all sports ( and of some professional branches – cocaine!- also), from early days on. And I’m afraid this and other kinds of cheating will prove to be eternal.

    Wondering which amazing records will be set by which athletes, during next Olympic Games in august …


  2. Colson,

    Doping happens unfortunately not only in Cycling sport but also in others sport. Why I dedicate the whole entry to doping cases in Le Tour? Because Le Tour is a yearly event. Since Le Tour de dopage in 1998, the question has been not if a cyclist using dope would be caught? but When the users would be caught?

    I plan to follow the Olympic in China allright. I expect not only an impressive opening ceremony with the world famous Peking Opera but also the Doping cases…

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