Paul Andrews

Daily Roundup: Tour doping con’t, Rider down in Seattle, Lance’s chances

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup, Rider Down, This Day In Doping on July 6, 2009 at 1:04 am

This Day in Doping: Lance Armstrong will be “particularly monitored” for doping violations throughout the Tour. Not that monitoring “particularly works,” given the rampant abuses, but the UCI wants to at least keep up appearances.

The “particularly monitored” Tom Boonen was kicked out of this year’s tour for cocaine use, then reinstated. (Rightly so, since evidence points to cocaine not even being a performance-enhancing drug; it just makes you think you’re better.) Now he’s just trying to stay upright.

This year’s Giro d’Italia winner, Denis Menchov, is also being “particularly monitored,” at least to the extent of being interviewed by and giving evidence to Austrian police investigating blood doping. Menchov is trying to become the first Giro/Tour back-to-backer since Marco Pantani in 1998, a year before Pantani tested positive for blood doping in the Giro. Pantani died in 2004 from cocaine abuse.

So you see the pattern. The UCI can “particularly monitor” all it wants. Until the system is made foolproof, though, and Big Money quits forcing riders to dope, we’re going to have a tainted sport. The rider cut down by a driver suspected of driving while drunk was an experienced cyclist. Having ridden that Dexter N. route countless times as a bike commuter over the years, I’m a bit puzzled about the “crossing the street” part. Not that the cyclist wouldn’t have that right, but the Aurora exits dumps right into Dexter N. heading southbound. There isn’t much reason to cross the exit or Dexter, unless the cyclist happened to live across the street or had some other reason to do so. Just a pointer for future clarification. Otherwise it looks like a tragic case of an all-too-familiar driver-cyclist scenario.

Can Lance win this year’s Tour? Bicycling magazine weighs in with a yes. We say no. If Contador goes down from injury or other misfortune, Lance will still have to support Levi. If Levi and Alberto both go down, there ain’t much left to support Lance. And this would assume that if Contador goes down, the other favorites cave as well.

Let’s say Lance is doping and beating the system. He’s still old (almost 38), has been away from full-time racing for four years, has the residual shoulder injury and the psychological second-guessing that goes with four bad falls this season already, and wouldn’t be the only leader in the Tour gaming the system anyway. Plus the UCI has made it clear through various cage-rattlings (like the above “particuarly monitored”) that it won’t be looking the other way if Lance somehow does vie for this year’s crown (and that could include looking the other way for his foes).

I understand why Bicycling and major media have to prop up the Lance dream — the huge sponsorship dollars involved, American media coverage, associated advertising and so on down the money chain. And that’s fine, everyone has the right to make a buck. But we called Lance’s bluff on the Giro early and often, and were the only ones to do so. We turned out to be right, and we see no reason to change our stripes now.

Having said all the above: Go Lance! Prove us wrong!

  1. Huh, I would have expected better from Bicycling magazine. Those who actually know something about cycling aren’t deluding themselves about an Armstrong 8th. Unfortunately, most of America does not fall into this group. Lance is old. He’s out of shape (for him). It’s not going to happen. I with the U.S. would take a reality check already, so we can stop fawning over Lance and focus on what’s really important: The Tour.

    That said, I cheered good and hard for Armstrong in his heyday, and I appreciate what he’s done for the sport in this country (mainly, the fact that Versus now shows recaps about 6 times a day, so I don’t have to get up at 5:30 to watch the live coverage). And he was “particularly monitored” then too – far more frequently than could possibly still be considered “random”. The French are, and always have been, determined to find something on him, whether it’s there or not.

    The U.S. needs to get over itself and pick a new hero to root for. France needs to get over itself and accept that it’s not Lance’s fault they haven’t had a rider on the podium since Virenque. And he *admitted* to doping.

    For me, I’m a fan of the Tour. I want to see the best rider win, regardless of nationality. So long as they put up a good fight.

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