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July 27, 2006


I won't say that I knew it all along, but still... it doesn't surprise me :s

Maybe i'm being too cynical, but I'm afraid that nobody is really clean anymore, except maybe for Frank VDB now...

I hate to say it, but I agree.

What galls me is the way the commentators over here (the god-like Phil Liggett and Gary Imlach) talked about Landis' 8 minute recovery 'comeback' like it was a superhuman achievement.

I mean, it was a feat, but was I the only person thinking "They must have got the dosages right for that stage!"?

Kirsten, Simon: you're both right, of course. I suppose everybody with some common sense had this little voice in the back of their heads saying 'This is not possible the natural way'. Of course: the Tour de France has never been 'possible' the natural way. So I tend to agree with what Walter Pauli wrote in De Morgen this weekend: the Tour has to change, drastically. After all, in its current shape, the Tour was formed more or less in the thirties (so without the several hundred kilometres long stages that took the riders all day and all night like in the really early days). Until the sixties/seventies, there was no anti-doping policy or what have you, and it has only been since the eighties that doping has become a serious issue. So the Tour has grown for decades with doping and/or medical substances. Moreover, the stages has become increasingly long and hard. Like in this year's edition: 4 serious climbs in one day and a finish at the top of some ski station? 2 rest days in the entire tour? And so on? Come on... no wonder Boonen already said the Tour should be made a lot less heavy. And I, for one, am convinced that a Tour cut to human proportions would be equally exciting, with even more racing than the current-day carefulness of nobody wanting to take the risk of 'exploding' too soon. What's more? Commercial interests have only become bigger. The riders are pawns on a chess board, are perhaps in some cases overpaid but have no normal employees' rights. The team doctors and managers know what is going on, and sometimes probably even encourage it. But as soon as there is any chance of word getting out, the riders are on their own or even 'presumed guilty until proven innocent'. When is the hypocrisy going to stop? Those are all some of the things my 'godverdomme' meant...

Funnily enough, one of my friends, an avid amateur cyclist himself (annual cycling trips to the Stelvio and Mortirolo or to Alpe d'Huez, starting from home...) indicated to me Landis's odd behaviour upon achieving his 'superhuman' feat. He was indeed all pumped up, aggressive, a clear indication of testosterone use. He turned out to be right.

I was discussing this at the weekend with my Dad. We agreed that the best way for the Tour organisers, WADA, UCI etc to address doping is not to try to penalise drug use when it is a symptom of a wider problem: the often insane challenges they put the riders through several times each season (we followed the Tour over the Col du Madalene last year and even driving the stage was physically demanding!).

Although part of me thinks 'Well is doping just another form of performance enhancement like the latest group set, alloy frame etc...?'

If they all dope then we end up with a level playing field once again.... don't we?

@Steven: I noticed it too. But I was still naive enough (or tried to be) to think maybe he was just happy with the win :-{ ...
@Simon: I know what you mean. It's like the war on terror. It doesn't work and will never work if the true causes, the roots are not removed (yes, I tend to garden from time to time too). Same here: the repression of doping is just tackling symptoms, not the disease. There are even more and more doctors who advocate the use of a number of products which are today still on the list of what's forbidden (like epo), but in controlled doses. Doses which would even improve the riders' health instead of potentially damaging it (which should be the true reason of banning certain substances, but that is no longer an issue - it has become a 'holier than the pope' kind of attitude by people who often have never even seen a bike from closeby). On the other hand: I am not sure allowing some products and hence 'levelling the field' would not lead to riders trying to find other, always new stuff to make the difference. And I guess that's where the catch is... There simply are no easy solutions, I suppose.

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