Can we learn anything from the Tour de France?


As your writer has been travelling, he has been struck at the bad days that baseball, the Tour de France and professional basketball are all going through, for various reasons. The Tour de France, which has truly tightened its drug testing is damned if it does,
damned if it doesn't. You know one thing, the powers that be in track and field are sure happy it is not them on the front pages!

What an irony on drug testing. If drug testing is done well, and if one works to catch the cheats, then you make headlines. Witness the management of the Tour de France. One week, a German cyclist is caught, and the next thing one knows, the German TV networks are boycotting the Tour de France! The following week, the tough Ukranian
cyclist who had just won two days with heroic efforts flunks his test!

What do we learn? The truth is, most normal people could care less about drug testing in sports. And that is sad. Professional sports has gotten so bad, that if the guy is not a convicted killer, has several DUIs, or is suspected of dog fighting, then they are unusual. It is all about the "Benjamins"-dollars, and this has polluted our sports world.

In a sport that reveres competition, that acknowledges the athletes who soar higher, who run faster, who compete the best, drugs has been the sorry underbelly of our sport for three decades.

I believe that we will never catch all of the cheats, but we are catching many of them now. I also believe that the only people who can beat the system have access to $60k or more in cash to have designer drugs developed for them, or designer steriods, so we need to focus our testing on athletes at the top and also athletes who are goverment supported. This does not mean that all athletes cheat. I believe it is like everything else-about ten percent cheat. However, the odor, the stench left by cheating on our sport has sent fans and sponsors scurrying.

Testing works when it catches cheats, it is that simple. The Tour de France should be commended for working so hard to clean up their race, just as Track and Field, which has worked for the past half decade or so to truly clear up the stench of performance enhancing drugs.

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