Le Tour du Dopage

Basso gets a two-year ban because of Operación Puerto … Ullrich retires for the same reason.

Floyd Landis is still awaiting the outcome of his arbitration after “testing” positive for testosterone during last year’s Tour. I still think he’s getting screwed, even if he was doping.

Sinkewitz tests positive for testosterone … and is “amazed!”.

Michael Rasmussen misses 3 surprise anti-doping tests by not being where he indicated he’d be on certain days, and ends up getting kicked off the Danish national team. And now a former teammate from his mountain biking days is accusing Rasmussen of doping back then as well.

Bjarne Riis admits to doping and is persona-non-grata in the team car at the Tour.

Erik Zabel has his green jersey from 1996 struck from the records (as does Bjarne Riis with his yellow jersey the same year).

Richard Virenque gets to keep all of his polka-dot jerseys, though.

I’m so sick of doping stories … not because I think all the riders are clean, or because I think that all the riders are doping, either … I’m jaded, but optimistic that things are changing.

Patrick O’Grady, over at Mad Dog Media seems to illustrate it well.

I think people are getting screwed in the interim; and I’m afraid the sport is going to disappear off the map (especially on TV in the US) for several years before it starts recovering.

Sports … all sports, including cycling, the sport so near and dear to my heart … are entertainment; just like music, just like movies.

Do we pull a musician’s CDs off the shelf, or an actress’s movies out of the theaters when they go into rehab? Why is it that we can more easily accept drug use amongst “artists” than athletes?

I’m still watching the Tour … I will always watch the Tour … I find it exciting and … <gasp!> … entertaining!

But as long as athletes are held to a higher standard than entertainers, we will continue to be scandalized.

Maybe it is time to just declare all performance enhancing drugs legal in professional athletics … let them do what they want to do! Test the amateurs; test them often, but test them fairly!

Change the culture from within, not by kicking out the cheaters (because that will never happen), but by changing the mindset of the riders. Eventually, it will happen. If Linus Gerdemann is to be believed, it already is amongst many of the younger riders … so let’s give it a chance without more and more scandals or allegations.

Declare an amnesty for all current cyclists … allow them to admit to previous performance enhancing drug use; without stripping them of victories (so who won the 1996 – 1998 Tours?) and without fear of punishment. Throw the doors open wide.

If riders get caught after the amnesty? Life-ban. Massive fines. But allow everyone to wipe the slate clean and start over.

Including Bjarne Riis and Erik Zabel … for as long as we continue to punish riders for mistakes they’ve made in the past, then no one else will come forward voluntarily, and the secrecy will continue to drive the peloton.

Amnesty is the watch-word for the remainder of the 2007 cycling season.