Monday, June 26, 2006
CYCLING'S A LITTLE NUTS RIGHT NOW
- A Spanish inquisition (Operacion Puerta) into alleged use of banned performance-enhancing drugs is currently underway. Apparently, 58 professional cyclists are named in the inquiry. Those named (though not convicted) will likely not be permitted to ride in the Tour de France.
- Lance Armstrong, recently cleared of allegations of taking EPO in his first Tour de France win and fresh off winning a multi-million dollar lawsuit that further exonerates him, launches a campaign to oust World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) director Dick Pound.
- Simultaneously, leaked court testimony from that same lawsuit indicates that Armstrong's former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife alleged Armstrong admitted to using banned substances prior to his chemotherapy for cancer. Armstrong's doctor denies any such responses from him.
- And, on another front, three-time winner Greg Lemond alleges that Armstrong personally threatened him, trying to get him to shut up about whatever he knew or thought he knew about the use of banned substances.
And that's just cycling news within the past seven days!
Okay, so the professional cycling world is a little nuts right now...
Part of this is exploitative French media hype leading up to the Tour de France. Part of this is a legitimate attempt to cleanse the sport of cheating. And part of this is inexcusable and destructive personal vindictiveness. Collectively, it is disastrous for the sport.
No professional sport can survive this kind of turmoil for very long. And professional cycling, just gaining a foothold in the minds and hearts of an increasing number of Americans, is at risk of disappearing entirely from the radar screen of legitimate competitive sport.
Americans, in particular, won't endure scandal in sport for very long. They seem to have a short fuse, especially, for French tabloid journalism and European honchos who take selective and low aim at American competitors. Those who continue to cheat or rake muck are putting much at risk. It's time to stop the game.