My latest piece of reading has been related to the Tour de France. I spotted this book at the library as it was on the new books shelf. In light of the recent revelations about doping in cycling I thought it would make an interesting read. It is ironic that as I finished reading this book, Stuart O’Grady, the Australian cyclist, admitted that he had used drugs in 1998. Only once apparently! It has now reached the stage with doping that we no longer know who is riding clean. After reading this book I get the impression that the people in charge of the Tour de France were keen to keep hidden the fact that they knew doping was taking place among many of the riders in the Tour. Image is everything in the commercial world and they obviously thought it would not have looked good if they said that they had found in their drug testing that a large percentage of the riders were taking drugs.
This book is the result of one man’s quest to get to the bottom of drug taking in cycling. David Walsh is a sports journalist for the Times and has written on many sports during his career.
From the cover:
When Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France in 1999, there was a huge surge of support for him. Here was a great story: in the aftermath of the doping controversies of the previous Tour, which Armstrong had missed after his battle with life-threatening cancer, this was the perfect end to what organisers had dubbed the Tour of Renewal.
But not everyone was convinced. Journalist David Walsh was among a small group who felt that something was wrong. Despite predictions that the race would be slower now that it was “clean” of drugs, Armstrong in fact rode faster than his predecessors. How was this possible? As former Tour champion Greg LeMond said subsequently:”If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sport. If he isn’t, it would be the greatest fraud.”
In his quest for the truth, Walsh was accused by Armstrong of lacking ethics and was dubbed a “troll” as he took on a foe who could always boast that his record showed how he tested clean. As Armstrong once said: “I can get up every morning and look at myself in the mirror and my family can look at me too. That’s all that matters.”
Walsh’s search took him around the world as he found a mounting pile of evidence that showed Armstrong was lying, and in the autumn of 2012 he was vindicated when the American was stripped of his Tour titles and found his reputation in tatters. For Armstrong, his seven Tour victories proved to be his seven deadly sins.
This was an enlightening book that taught me a great deal. I will be looking at 2014 Tour de France with different eyes.
If you take a look at this infographic about the infamous climb of Alpe d’Huez you will see that the top ten fastest climbs are all by riders who doped! That says it all. It would be interesting to see the top ten times of ‘clean’ riders.
6 Comments Add yours
It’s such a scandal, all those years when people, including Lance Armstrong, were denying ever taking drugs and yet so many people within cycling knew what was going on. It’s amazing how long it went on before it came to light, almost impossible to believe. And with all those doped up records of fast times, who wants to make a slower ‘clean’ time? I can see the pressure they’re under.
The pressure certainly meant that those who didn’t comply were ostracised and this often resulted in them leaving cycling for good.
I’ve seen this book around and wondered about it. I read one of Lance Armstrongs books before he acknowledged his doping. It is such a disappointment, and so amazing that it was covered up for so long, given it was so wide spread. Still riding 3,000km in 21 days or so is an astonishing achievement, it’s such a shame that it’s all become tainted.
I totally agree.
Next year, I’m
watching out for Kintana ? The Columbian rider I’m hoping he rides clean.
He certainly was focused and in the zone! He is young and hopefully he is clean. It was nice to see someone new in the mix.