By Tick of
Doping has raised its ugly head again this week. The biggest news continues
to come out of what we are not to call the "Cofidis Affair." Allegedly, Philippe
Gaumont has admitted to not only using, but also to selling illegal,
performance-improvement drugs. And he has apparently also insinuated that if he
is going to go down alone, he is willing to name names.
Johann Museeuw is proud to tell us that his blood and urine were found to be
free of drugs, Frank Vandenbroucke has to face drug possession charges from a
raid two years ago, the UCI says it has tests to spot recent blood transfusions,
and the French want to ban untrained, unlicensed soigneuers, evidently the
source of all evils.
What is happening to our sport? Or has it already happened, and either we
didn't notice it, or chose to ignore it? Do all of the riders use something
illegal? Is there a conspiracy concerning the drug tests, so that only a few are
"caught"? Is David Moncoutie really the only clean rider out there?
But the most important question is: how do we, as fans, feel about it all?
There are those who say the problem doesn't exist. Other say, "they all use
drugs, they're not worthy of my attention, I won't be a fan any more." I choose
the middle path: yes, some use drugs. Maybe many of them do. I don't know.
But I still love to see the sport: the seriousness and joy on the face of
these well-trained young men as they talk about their sport; the frantic
sprints; the strenuous, exhausting climbs; yes, "the thrill of victory and the
agony of defeat"; the graceful and liquid flow of the peloton, like a school of
fish; falling down and getting up and rider further; the heart-stopping descents
with the riders nearly flat on their bikes; the feelings of friendship so
obvious among this group of men -- and their occasional spats; the concentration
and intensity in the eyes of an expert time-trialer; the deceptively motionless
upper body of a cyclist, with his legs pumping away furiously, automatically and
endlessly ... all these are the things that make cycling so special to me.