Thursday, 26 July 2007

Le Tour de Farce?

I love my cycling, and even though I'm an offroad kind of rider, I thrill at the abilities of the TdF competitors, the efforts, the pain, the speeds. Why, I wouldn't mind buying a roadbike myself (and would have picked up an ebay bargain today if SWMBO had given the OK). But the TdF?

Dear me. Still no winner from 2006.

Now to 2007, and what happens? Rasmussen, the current leader, kicked out. Vinokourov and his team Astana kicked out. Both had been performing brilliantly, Vinokourov providing fans with a stunning form reversal after a bad ride (just like last year's "winner" (subject to court decisions), Landis). Other riders testing positive. Who else is to go? Will the winner be the winner this year, or will more accusations and litigation follow? It makes me wonder about previous winners as well - did they just use methods of cheating undetectable at the time?

I guess it's good news for the squeaky voiced Aussie, Cadel Evans, who 's now jumped back to second place. But... because of all the other cheats, his achievements will always have us wondering. Has he just got a better pharmacist? I hope not.

[edit] And could 80% of the competitors really suffer from asthma, requiring them to use asthma preventing... steroids... and other drugs which open their airways? Amazing how many elite sportspeople suffer from asthma. When I was a kid, the asthma suferers were the weedy ones who couldn't play much sport because they had breathing difficulties. Now they're able to compete at an elite level, and make up the majority? Hmmm... I'm not slagging off the people who genuinely have asthma -their use of mediation allows them to live much more complete lives than they could have otherwise, and being unable to breathe well was truly debilitating.

Cycling, especially road cycling seems to be rotten to the core. But should we point the finger? We've loved the performances. We demand higher speeds. We expect super human efforts day after day. We treat winners like gods. And it's not just cycling. Swimming, track, field, weightlifting, etc, etc, etc, all have shady pasts (and probably presents). What about footy (any variety)?

Elite sport is business. Big business. Just like in regular business, winners can be set up for life. If they "bend the rules" a bit - aka cheating - or lose their memory (eh Mr Bond), they can make even more money. Politicians lie and cheat for their own benefit and to retain power. Any wonder sportspeople also cheat?

I think it's human nature, and that's a sad thing.

Bugger it, I'm going for a ride.

Tony F

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