Remember how the leader of the Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen, was fired by his team because he was suspected of doping? It sent a fairly positive message because it meant that anyone could be kicked off for cheating, and it wouldn’t matter who it was, even the leader of the biggest cycling race in the world. At least the remaining riders, including the new winner, Alberto Contador, would be clean.
In the words of the immortal Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. Now Contador is suspected of doping, and a German expert says he has proof (WAH WAH WAAAAAHHHH). In short, Contador was linked to a doping investigation called Operation Puerto, which got over 50 riders tied to a Madrid clinic banned for doping. Contador missed the 2006 Tour because of his team’s link to the operation. He’s never tested positive for anything, but that’s hardly the point.
This year’s Tour de France was either a huge success or a major catastrophe, depending on how one looks at it. Obviously, it was a failure because so many riders were caught cheating, suspected of cheating, or won last year’s Tour and couldn’t race again because of the swirling accusations. That’s right, we didn’t forget you, Floyd Landis. Three riders and two teams were banned from the race. The reputation of cycling, which is huge in Europe, has been permanently damaged because of the sheer volume of riders who are or were cheating by taking performance enhancing drugs.
On the other hand, the Tour was something of a success because so many riders ended up being caught. Some riders, like Alexandre Vinokourov, tested positive for something illegal. Michael Rasmussen was fired by his team because he wouldn’t take random tests and was deceitful about his whereabouts while training. Now even Contador is in trouble, though he is still the winner of the 2007 Tour. The system seems to work, one way or another. Guys who cheated were caught. Maybe not all of them were, but at least there are some results. Hooray for drug testing. Admit it, you’d feel better if baseball’s testing system were this successful. The real question now is: when will athletes stop being caught by the system because none of them are cheating anymore?