Untangling the Tour de France Dope Stories

Jul 31 2007

So the 2007 Tour is finally finished. Time for me to return to this blog’s normal topics of telecommunications billing, with specific emphasis on reports generation, postpaid offline rating, journaling, and – new for August – general ledgers! (Are the new viewers gone yet?). Yes, the ’07 Tour may only be a memory, but the dope stories will last a lifetime. Seriously.

Latest contestant in the Shame Game is Iban Mayo, who I was really hoping would fade slowly into obscurity after his stellar ’03 TdF, just so I could avoid ever seeing this headline again. The Basque, in case you’d forgotten, was over the testosterone line at the Giro, but is just naturally so manly that it wasn’t a problem. The UCI wasn’t fooled by this excuse, probably because they’d heard it a few times before. Too bad Mayo is a “rider with a high salary” and thus, according to his team director, couldn’t possibly be guilty.

All these positives have the French calling for tougher sanctions. But really, should riders have less incentive to confess? A confessed doper knows how people dope, how people beat dope tests, and what signs dopers show. But a rider faced with a lifetime ban plus a one-year’s-salary fine has an overwhelming incentive to deny, deny, deny. Doping trials cost everyone time and money, hurt the reputation of the sport and further reinforce the “what, me dope?” culture. The entire nation of Kazakhstan is apparently willing to back a story that a hard impact to the knees can somehow introduce foreign blood cells into the body; wouldn’t the whole world be better off if Vino’ had a reason to confess?

Take the Sinkewitz case. Rather than string things dishonestly along for almost a year, like another twenty-something cyclist we could name, Sinkewitz has opted to forego his B-sample, and has explained in relative detail how and why he cheated (apparently, it really is as straightforward as explained by Joe Papp, another doper-turned-witness). Now cyclists and fans can see that the tests work, that a constant state of denial is not the automatic response, and that David Millar isn’t the only who can take a suspension and return clean. Do you think knowing that there might be something in it for him didn’t help Stinky come clean?

(report this ad)

3 Responses to “Untangling the Tour de France Dope Stories”