With Kenya and UK hero Chris Froome storming into the lead in the first mountain stage of the Tour de France, many Brits will be watching to see whether the cycling genius can take the trophy home to the UK for the second time – and the third time ever for a Brit, all in the last four years.
Although I am an avid fan of Froomey and am disgusted that a spectator allegedly threw urine in his face mid ride, with so many fallen stars in the annals of the Tour’s history – Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador are two of many who have won it while in breach of doping regulations and , you can’t but help wonder if the cynics are right.
If you know nothing about professional cycling, here’s a serious contender for the General Classification (GC) race you don’t want on the podium – Alberto Contador.
Contador for me is the Gollum of the Tour de France. He’s technically won the overall GC race twice, but proven to be doping in the 2010 edition. After being found out, he still raced in the Tour in 2012, suggesting that his suspension could be delayed until the end of the race. They let him, too!
The fact that this man is even on a bike as a professional shows the light touch of the authorities in regards doping. Yes, every professional is tested regularly, but once a doper, always a doper. In the climate of distrust then they should give life bans for illicit drug taking unless absolutely proven that it was accidental.
Team Sky have taken a vigorously anti doping stance. In theory at least all of their cyclists in the team are clean, and brilliant for it. With the recent reputation of the Tour de France as being a blood doper’s paradise, they have real problems when the likes of Chris Froome smashes the field apart on the way up the Pyrenees mountain stage.
Speaking of the latest allegations that he was cheating, Froome said in an interview with Sky Sports, “I do understand where the questions are coming from, the history of the sport and the people before me who have won the Tour. I am sympathetic, but at the same time there needs to be a certain level of respect also.”
Didn’t Armstrong say similar?
Where I want to believe this guy, and will follow his race all the way to Paris on ITV4, I remember watching Lance Armstrong denounce allegations of drug taking, even while doing it over several GC wins.
Time is a great healer, and if we do get a run of say, a decade where no GC winner in the Tour de France has been busted for using drugs to smash the field apart on the epic climbs of the Alps and Pyrenees, then people like me may start giving credit where credit is due.
My message to those heroes of the greatest cycle race in the world? Impress us, don’t depress us. Impress us with your battles through the mountains – don’t depress us with positive dope test results. All of you who win better be clean. Why? If not, even the cleanest and best will be doubted otherwise. All of the 150 odd cyclists in the race must be clean in order for the one on the podium to avoid negative headlines every five minutes.