TdF Minus One

Tomorrow begins a new Tour, and with it the guarantee that there will be some exciting and surprising bike racing on the roads of France (and the Netherlands, where the race begins).  And we’ve already had the annual brouhaha about doping in the Tour and cycling generally, thanks largely to Floyd Landis’ confession that he did use performance-enhancing drugs and Greg LeMond’s ardent support of Landis in trying to “clean up the sport.”  So far LeMond has never been able to come up with any evidence that the sport is dirty, and his argument boils down to “Lance and others rode much more strongly than I did.”  Thus they must have been doping.  Stunning logic, that.

On the rare days lately when I ride inside on the e-bike during the spring and summer, I have been watching the 2006 Tour.  That’s the first one after Lance retired, the one that began with several of the top contenders, notably Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso, being scratched just before the race began by being implicated in the Spanish “Operacion Puerto.”  The investigation involved blood doping, and apparently included not only cyclists but other endurance athletes, notably numerous football [read “soccer,” inveterate Americans] stars.  The latter, I surmise, were so well protected by the web of money and power in pro European sports that the whole episode has never been seriously investigated by the Spanish legal system.

In 2006 Landis seemed to have the Tour pretty well in had until he lost 8 or 9 minutes to his rivals on a mountain stage.  On the very next stage he made up for it with a stunning mountain solo attack that took back nearly the same amount of time on everybody, setting him up to cement the Tour victory by winning the last Individual Time Trial.

Except that a few days after the race finish he was announced to have tested positive for testosterone on that stage.  Now Landis is saying that while he was an Armstrong teammate a few yeas before his infamous Tour, both he and Lance and others on the team used performance enhancing drugs.  They masked it, Landis says, by using precisely timed microdoses.

Guess Floyd didn’t learn the lessons of doping from Lance very well, because when he tested positive for testosterone the pattern was . . . normal / normal / normal / eleven times too much / normal /normal . . . .  Seems to me either Landis is lying or he was pretty stupid not to have learned better how to make his doping undetectable.  They test the winner of every stage, so he knew on the day he had his great ride that he’d be tested.  Lying or stupid?  Maybe both?

Anyway, Contador better watch out.  Because Lance is a guy who apparently really knows his microdoses.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.

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