It’s becoming increasingly clear that cyclists these days know that everyone thinks they cheat and that they don’t care. Two more riders in the Tour de France are being surrounded by controversy regarding performance-enhancing substances and blood testing. Luckily, this time it’s not Americans that are the target of new allegations.
First, Alexandre Vinokourov has reportedly tested positive for…something, probably some type of blood doping. His team announced the bad news on Tuesday, after Vinokourov had won yet another stage. The positive test came from a sample taken after last Saturday’s time trial, which he also won. Vinokourov isn’t in contention to win the Tour de France, though he was a favorite when the race began. His “B” sample still needs to be tested before anything else can be done but, to understate things a bit, this is obviously yet another bad incident for cycling. However, once cheater in the middle of the pack wouldn’t be such a big deal. But he’s not alone.
In much, much worse news, Tour leader Michael Rasmussen was dropped from the Danish Olympic team, not because of a positive test, but because he avoided taking any drug tests whatsoever in the last couple of months. He had two tests scheduled for him, one in May and one in June, that he simply never took. He has also ignored warnings from the International Cycling Union about missing tests since April 2006. Any more missed tests would be considered a positive test and would result in a ban. Obviously, this means that Rasmussen has no positive tests, but not taking any tests in the months leading up to the Tour de France is, as the French say, f-ing suspicious. Even the president of the International Cycling Union (which is inexplicably abbreviated as UCI) thinks Rasmussen winning the Tour de France would be bad for cycling and its already tarnished image. “You have to give him the benefit of the doubt,” says UCI President Pat McQuaid, but “the last thing the sport needs is more speculation about doping.”
Cycling is hilariously corrupt. The riders don’t even care that they miss tests and they still (allegedly) do all kinds of illegal things even though everyone is watching them so closely now because of Floyd Landis and a plethora of other cheating riders. In a way, they deserve some kind of sick credit because cheating is ruining their sport but cyclists keep right on doping (allegedly) and ditching tests. They know full well that even the appearance of impropriety these days is another nail in the coffin, but no one is doing anything about it. What’s worse is that there are obviously plenty of clean riders out there (wait, there has to be some clean ones right?). Maybe justice from international ruling bodies isn’t enough. Maybe there ought to be some kind of street justice handed down to cheating riders by the clean riders, kangaroo-court style. Or at least just let them carry riding crops during races.
You have to give UCI President Pat McQuaid credit too. Would Bud Selig every say anything about Barry Bonds breaking the record being bad for baseball because of allegations of steroid use? We want to be clear, cycling is no worse than baseball. In fact, cycling might even be a little better because we seem to find out who is cheating a lot sooner in cycling than in baseball. Selig’s ineptitude has caused every baseball fan and sports-hack to debate whether players were cheating 5-15 years ago as opposed to last week. There are also plenty of illegal things athletes in both sports can get away with for which there are no tests. So, let’s not get all high and mighty because there’s rampant cheating in a European sport too. Besides, America kicks ass in plenty of other sports that matter more, like basketball. Oh, right. Ouch.