From the Stands

By Adam Wakefield

The Oxford Dictionary defines sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in
which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” It is with this definition in mind that I cast my eye towards the Tour de France, or is it the Tour de Farce? What is meant to be the greatest show of strength and endurance on the planet has been reduced to a fraction of its meaning.

Why? Not since Ben Johnson broke the 100m world record at the 1988 Montreal  Olympics, in a time only beaten this century, and subsequently banned for doping has a
sport being smeared in such a mire of scandal and mistrust. Alexandre Vinokourov, a favourite of this year’s tour, was having a horrible time of it before the Alps. Vinokourov  then seemed miraculously reborn in the Alps, powering his way to two stage wins within a week.

He was subsequently picked up for blood-boosting, having had a blood transfusion a few days before his initial stage victory. Michael Rasmussen, who virtually had the yellow
jersey in the bag, was kicked off his team for lying after questions had been raised earlier in the tour about his association with ‘dirty’ doctors. Rasmussen said he was in Mexico training. Instead, he was spotted in Italy at the time under suspicious circumstances. Floyd Landis, last year’s Tour winner, has been banned for doping and is struggling to clear his name.

What of Lance Armstrong, the seventime winner of the tour? Rumours have it that the American man of steel wasn’t as clean as we all suspected, though there is no way to
prove it. The reason I am pissed off with the happenings in France is not because I am a fan of cycling. I live with two spinning instructors and cannot understand the madness they put themselves through every week. I am pissed because while the dopers and
the “druggies” fill the pages of newspapers and submerge the airwaves in scandal, the men who deserve the utmost respect and recognition from the media and the public are forgotten.

This will be the scenario on a quiz show in the near future I imagine: Who won the Tour de France in 2007? Um, I think it was that guy from Venezuela but there were a lot of drugs involved! It will be Alberto Contador who benefits the least from the drugs scandal. Nobody cares he is the second youngest rider to ever win the Tour.

The media are more interested in the cloak–and–dagger happenings of the cycling world. Cycling is in danger of being drowned in steroids and test reports and it will only take a hammer fist from the authorities or at least stricter controls to stamp out such behaviour. Cycling is in dire need of a boost (excuse the pun).

Tri-Varsity is coming up next week. Here’s to forgetting the travesty that was the Tour De Farce 2007.

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