That Race in France

Posted by on Jul 18, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments

I have not been following the Tour all that closely this year. I don’t have the RV and Rodeo Channel (Versus) and so I am left to follow the race online. And I forget to do that. And honestly, the last year or two I have just not been all that interested. The post-Lance era was shaping up to be epic. Great young riders who could time trial, climb, and sprint were rising above the peloton, ready to establish themselves as the next cycling Bosses.

But then they all doped and were banned and everything went to hell.

David Millar is an admitted and convicted doper. And he also once threw a fantastic tantrum, tossing his bike over a set of barricades. Anyway, since his return to professional cycling he has been an outspoken critic of dopers, and doping. And for that I admire him. He was once part of the problem, but now is determined to be a part of the solution. He is doing what Mark McGwire, and others have not had the guts to do. When McGwire retired he talked up and down about helping educate young athletes about the dangers of this and that and all sorts of other noble things he intended to do. Instead he hides behind a gated Malibu neighborhood and never says a word.

But I digress.

Back to Millar. He has been blogging about the Tour, and in his usual candid style has lambasted Ricco in the wake of his positive test. In a hilarious and damning assessment he said:

It was a little surreal and disheartening watching the police and dozens of media surrounding the Saunier Duval bus. But at the same time, it was gratifying to see the little bastard getting caught. Because that’s what he is, a little bastard. Forget ‘The Cobra’, I’ve got two better names for him: The Trouser Snake (courtesy of Danny Pate at the Giro), and The Worm (courtesy of Mark Cavendish here at the Tour). Well, I had a feeling the snake’s move on the Aspin was too good to be true. And unfortunately of late when I have that feeling, doping is involved.

I love his frank way of telling it like it is. The war on doping needs riders who will call one another out like this. If a rider worries about what the peloton will think of him (since what the press and fans think seems to have no impact) if he is caught juicing, perhaps he will think twice before he plunges that needle.

But then again, maybe not.

I have to wonder about the intelligence of people who continue to cheat in an environment where the number one focus of all involved is to stop the cheating. Or, conversely, I wonder how effective the testing procedures are. Neither side (athletes/testers) is perfect. And both probably dabble in collusion, corruption, manipulation and conspiracy. But certainly there must be well meaning chemists and scientists and athletes and coaches who are sincerely trying to clean up the sport?

The reality is that doping is not going away. There will always be a new “Clear”, a new “Cream”, a new EPO, steroid, hormone, juice, pill, bar, patch, and whatever else you can think of that will artificially enhance athletic performance.

But hopefully the efforts of David Millar, and others like him can help slow that tide. Maybe, just maybe the younger riders will develop a competitive ethic based on clean racing. That was the hope this year. At least it was until the snake came along and played us all for fools.

“Little bastard” indeed.


  1. Doug
    July 18, 2008

    i like the pros calling a spade a spade. but i can’t stomach it coming from millar. his self-righteous indignation is hard to take.


  2. bikingbadger
    July 20, 2008

    life long bans is needed. Ricco has already stated he’ll be back in two years stronger than ever. I seem to side with Doug, millar new holy fire is a bit overboard. bring in a ban that will effectively end their careers and you’ll see how they start to think twice about popping that next pill.

  3. Ski Bike Junkie
    July 21, 2008

    I like the idea of jail time for dopers. The French police have been arresting these guys to charge them with sporting fraud. I think they should also kick out the entire team of anyone found doping, that way the riders police each other. Saunier Duval voluntarily withdrew, but Barloworld and Liquigas are still racing. They should be out as well.

    As for Millar, I don’t mind his self-righteousness because he’s one of the few guys in the peleton with the balls to say something. Most of the rest just pretend the problem doesn’t exist. At least publicly.

    Dopers suck.

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