This year’s Tour de France may be the cleanest Tour in recent history but that still hasn’t kept doping from being in the headlines. During the early stages, Versus had to adjust their programming schedule because the stages were taking longer than expected. There was talk that maybe the riders didn’t feel right without their drugs.
First it was that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz had failed a doping test while during a training camp before the Tour. Just like Floyd Landis, he had elevated testosterone. Only the A sample has been tested and Sinkewitz has asked for the B sample to be tested. Before the positive had been announced he had crashed and was out of the Tour from hitting a spectator.
This week the doping news was that yellow jersey wearer, Michael Rasmussen, had failed to keep anti-doping officials informed of his whereabouts and they couldn’t find him for 2 random drug tests. He hasn’t failed any tests but missing 3 tests is considered a positive.
Also on Friday he was accused of trying to get Whitney Richards, a former mountain bike racer from Boulder, to take a Biopure to Italy for him. Whitney had been told it was a box of shoes but he opened it because he was having trouble getting everything to fit in his suitcase. Cyclelicious posted an article with more about Biopure including a link that says it isn’t performance enhancing.
I’ve long believed that the top pro cyclists were doping. I also think doping is a problem in other sports. How about Barry Bonds and the giant football players? It doesn’t seem people care so much about them though. Maybe it’s because in the US cycling isn’t as well understood.
I’m all for cleaning up cycling and other sports but there seems to be an attempt to attack the Tour de France. With Floyd Landis there were leaks to the press and mistakes by the lab. Throughout his whole case it has seemed that anti-doping authorities and the UCI have wanted to take him down no matter what.
Now with Rasmussen, the timing seems to an attempt to make the Tour de France look bad. The random tests that Rasmussen missed were on May 8th and June 28th (I’ve also seen a couple other dates close to those). Rasmussen was warned on June 29th by the UCI. Why was it not announced until July 19th while he was wearing the yellow jersey? It’s not like they had to wait for tests results. They just couldn’t find him. The Danish Cycling Federation says it announced that he was off the national team because he incorrectly stated he had only missed one drug test. He has been given blood tests on June 30, July 5th and 17th and he has given urine samples on July 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th. The UCI hasn’t released the results of those tests.
The UCI should be promoting cycling but instead it seems intent on destroying a part of it. Tennis and soccer players were also involved with Operation Puerto but the governing bodies haven’t allowed names to be released. The UCI and ASO that puts on the Tour de France have been involved in a power struggle the last couple of years. The UCI wants their ProTour to have the prestige and power instead of the Tour de France. Let’s clean cycling up but let’s not destroy riders because of a power struggle.