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Gee, what a surprise?

July 16, 2008

Camera, film, paper, light, photography. There, just to keep this post on theme and satisfy the mob.

The Tour de France has, once again, found itself in the midst of a “doping problem.” I’m shocked. Really. Just can’t believe it.

I mean I thought after twenty seven years of doping issues that THIS would be the year of a perfectly clean tour. Okay, maybe not.

Actually, I miss the full scale doping of past years, where at least the tour had riders that rode with passion. This year, when recently asked who I thought was going to win, I suddenly got the taste of…of…nothing in my mouth. This is not to say that this year’s race is filled with bad bike riders. Not even close, these guys are gamers, and can ride a bike well beyond what the average, mortal man could ever achieve.

However, they lack panache. I don’t want a “ride the wheel of the guy in front” rider. I want someone to attack, someone that says, “I’m taking this thing, and I’m gonna stomp the rest of you in the process.”

And the doping. I actually don’t mind it that much. I think it has been an integral part of the sport for the past twenty five years, and I sure enjoyed that product, much more so than the “cleaned up” version we are seeing today. The riders are looking for an edge, and in some cases just a boost to even compete at this level. Most of these guys suffering for a month have no chance of winning, they are just looking to finish, to lend support, and many of them are using anything they can to make it through. This I understand.

What I have no patience for is the team around them, the management who continues to act as if they are in the dark about their own riders. “Gee, our rider failed an EPO test, I’m shocked.” “We are outraged.” “We want the B-sample tested.” “Excuse me, which way to the airport.”

Everyone KNOWS what is going on and they just think they won’t get caught. Pretend class ended in third grade.

What I also have no patience for is the bias shown toward certain riders from certain countries. Now the mainstream media posse seems to think this is just hype, but I think this year’s tour is a perfect example. You have riders, from Europe, who have been implicated in things like Operation Puerto who are STILL riding in the tour. Some of the European riders, and their teams and cycling bodies, are treated differently. Plain and simple.

Now we have our second Spanish rider to test positive and only now are the “powers that be” saying, “Well, I guess the Spanish didn’t get the memo.”

Come on. I think the memo was perhaps written in invisible ink. And it is not just the Spanish riders, they just happen to be the example of the moment.

My guess is that a significant portion of the riders are still doping. I think you have clean riders, who you can normally see toward the back of the pack, or blowing up in the mountain stages. I feel bad for these riders, who have dedicated their lives to this wonderful sport, only to be left riding with one arm tied behind their back. Or, being passed by a rider with three arms, which I would guess is a GREAT way to spot a doped rider.

Is there anyway that someone can stand up and yell, “Do Over?”

I do think that regardless of what is happening, this is truly one of the great sporting events in our world, and the degree is difficulty, doped or not doped, is beyond comprehension. They say that the Iditarod is the last great race on Earth, but I beg to differ.

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