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July 26, 2007

France reacts to Tour's three strikes: Vino, Moreni, Rasmussen

IHT.com | France reels from Tour de France scandals, and newspaper urges calling off race

The Independent | Tour de France: French demand drastic action as outrage turns into disgust

Hugh Schofield, writing in The Independent, provides some reaction from French newspapers: from Aujourd'hui en France: “Cheats, Get Out!” (in French, “Tricheurs dehors!”); in La Nouvelle Republique, “It's the Tour of Shame.”

The Associated Press notes France Soir's front page obituary (at right), which said the Tour died today, “at age 104, after a long illness.” Any names pointedly missing?

Liberation editorialized:

"The Tour must be stopped.”

“This procession of cyclists has been transformed into a caravan of ridicule,” Liberation wrote. “If the organizers really want to save cycling, they should stop the competition and declare a pause of a few years, enough time to treat these athletes-turned-druggies.”


Liberation.fr | La mort du Tour (in French)

Forbes.com | U.S. Sponsors of Tour de France Hang On

WSJ.com | Tour de France Sponsors May Pull Out

Fox Sports | No mourning but 'Tour is dead'

Posted by Frank Steele on July 26, 2007 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Michael Rasmussen | Permalink


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So, has Michael Rasmussen failed any of the doping tests given to the Yellow Jersey? No. Have the doping tests been effective? Evidently yes. So, basically he has been kicked off the tour because of unsubstantiated allegations surrounding his training in June. I smell a witchhunt here. Hey, I spotted several chickens in Poland on June 16th, or was it the 20th?, that must mean that the fiendish Michael Rasmussen has been doping ever since then. Come on, give him a break. Regardless of where he trained in June and whether or not he missed a couple of appointments (and who among riders has not?) Rasumssen has not been found doping during this Tour (though he has been tested up the wazzoo) and he thoroughly deserves the Yellow Jersey for his performances.

Posted by: Mark Pearson at Jul 26, 2007 2:03:08 PM

So if any athlete wants to dope it up in the off season all they have to do is turn off their cell phone and make sure they are unavaiable?

Easy then to take any drugs you want to ensure you heal promptly.

And were Basso or Ulrich ever caught even though they were "tested up the wazoo"? Not until much after the fact. All their tests came back clean. So did Riis' even though he has since admitted he was cheating during his tour victory.

We'll see how many athletes miss out of race season tests next year. None of the top riders I am sure.

As someone who once worked at a security guard and had to punch in at various stations through out the night (to prove I was walking around and being were i was supposed to be) I found the rule very simple to follow. There are many occupations where we "must" do things to keep our jobs. While I sympathize, I can understand the zero tolerance now being used.

Posted by: Mistlefoot at Jul 26, 2007 3:16:46 PM

The tour is being punished for getting rid of cheaters. If they could effectively cover it all up, then the tour would have excellent press. Instead, it's bad press for enforcing good policies.

Posted by: Mike at Jul 26, 2007 3:16:48 PM

Well, this whole thing is just a stunt designed to sell newspapers, right!?

Posted by: Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog at Jul 26, 2007 3:58:21 PM

"They've got no proof." "It's a witch hunt." We've heard this stuff repeatedly from Hamilton, Ullrich, Basso, etc. Deny, deny, deny... and then, when backed into a corner and having exhausted every angle of deception (as well as the patience and goodwill of everyone) the liar changes his tune.

In Rasmussen's case, everybody and his brother could smell the rat for over a week. It was in the shrugging off of violations of the very rules and procedures intended to prevent stealth doping methods. It was in the "oops, I'm sorry I didn't turn in my travel itinerary." It was in the total denial and trivialization of Whitney Richards' corroborated account of being tricked into carrying doping products into Italy. It was in the invulnerability on the mountain and in the time trial--levels of performance unprecedented and unjustifiable. It was in the now well-worn taunt: "hey, look at my negative controls in the Tour--I'm clean." And finally, it was in the shiftiness and lie regarding his pre-tour whereabouts. Whether or not Rasmussen actually admmitted (when confronted with the charge) that he was in Italy and not Mexico, Rabobank was satisfied that they had enough of the truth to stop the charade. Thankfully, they also had enough guts to pull the plug.

Do we have to go back over again and again the process by which blood doping methods are used before a competition and then suspended ten days prior to the event to prevent detection so that while detection is impossible the peformance impact lingers?

Rasmussen will scream and yell for months, as will Vinokourov. Pandering to their sense of being unjustly treated is a waste of time. Let professional cycling continue to clean house and embrace cyclists and trainers who cooperate with complete accountability 24/7, 365.

Posted by: John Hay, Jr. at Jul 26, 2007 6:19:41 PM

I think you should let them take all the drugs that they want. The results would be safe and effective drugs that would improve everyone's lives. If everything was known ahead of time, there would be more science involved by people with reputations and skills and fewer Rasputins with magic potions. If these people are willing to risk their lives anyway, we should at least get some postive results from it that would benefit the average person. Everyone complains about the conditions in this year's tour, but so far, no one has died on Puy de Dome, saying "Put me back on my bike."

Posted by: David R. Holmes at Jul 26, 2007 7:46:25 PM

Remember the BALCO doping scandal - here's what the head of BALCO, Victor Conte, said in a recent interview about the ease of beating the dope testing system...

"This business of “ducking and diving” is where Conte believes the system is beatable. “I don’t consider in-competition testing to even be dope-testing,” he said. “I call that IQ-testing. If you are dumb enough to be caught in a competition, then you are mentally retarded. It’s during the off-season that athletes do their real weight training. That’s where the doping problem has always been.”

In the off-season, athletes have to provide “whereabouts” information and it is here, Conte said, that they play the system. “If you say you’re going to be training in Ohio, for instance, but you’re really in Florida and they [the drugs-testers] show up – and the odds are not very good of that – you get a ‘missed test’. The upside of that is you’ve also got a cycle of steroids under your belt. And you’re getting more steroids in on the other times when you are not being caught.

“But if you are caught a second time, you’ve got another missed test, but you’ve also had another cycle of steroids under your belt. The rule is three strikes and out. And it’s a moving timeframe of 18 months, so you show up at the World Championships or the Olympics, win a gold and soak up the endorsements until one of those missed tests drops off. Then you are in a position to duck and dive again because the consequence is nothing more than a missed test. That’s how athletes do it. The authorities say that they test more and do target-testing, but you can still duck and dive.”

Posted by: Stuart McKenzie at Jul 27, 2007 5:53:51 AM

The leaders for TDF are running the tour with their heads up there arses. The way they have handled the whole Michael Rasmussen deal is a disgrace. French people just CANT accepet foreign winners and riders. France only have shitty riders, so EVERYONE else has to be using illegal drugs. Fuck TDF...close the damn race and burry it.

Posted by: mike at Jul 27, 2007 5:35:08 PM