No Such Nonsense

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

After Lance, Scandal Reigns

Last week, I posted a lengthy article on Lance Armstrong and the accusations of doping that have hounded him throughout his career. Armstrong has always strongly denied the use of any kind of performance-enhancing drugs, but many still believe that he was dirty, and the majority of the riders on the Tour de France continue to be so.

This week came news that more than a dozen riders - including some of the riders expected to challenge for the Tour championship this year - have been kicked off the Tour after being implicated in a doping scandal that looks a lot like the BALCO probe that ensnared Barry Bonds and so many others.

According to MSNBC, the scandal is linked to Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor who was "arrested in May when police seized banned performance-enhancers at a Madrid doping clinic. Outgoing Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc said the Spanish investigators cited doping 'dosages' apparently prescribed" for top racers. Racers implicated and banned include two of the pre-race favourites: Jan Ullrich, who won the race in 1997 and who has finished second to Armstrong three times; and Ivan Basso winner of this year's Giro (the Tour of Italy) and second to Armstrong last year.

In both the BALCO probe and this year's tour scandal, it is clear that large scale operations exist to develop and disguise ever-better performance-enhancing drugs. And there is clearly a lucrative market to support them. The temptation to use them, when so many of your competitors anteammateses clearly aravailingng themselves, must be incredible.

As for Lance, many have remarked that he chose the perfect time to leave. And that does seem true - dirty or not, all the racers on the Tour will hear the doping whispers getting louder and louder as the race is overtaken.


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