I don’t think the Tour will ever be quite the same for me. Not just because of his retirement (which saddens me), but all these rumors and accusations have gone a long way to ruining the sport for me.
Yep – the first week of August 2006 kind of soured me, too.
In a way, it would have been much easier to take if Landis were definitively positive, and if Puerto had conclusively taken down Basso, Ullrich, etc. The sport would have shown effective policing, and we could have moved on from the “Era of Doping”.
Instead, there’s serious questions about Landis’ test (which, coincidentally is the same lab that hung Hamilton out to dry, leading folks to wonder if maybe the Man from Marblehead was screwed, too), nothing substantial from the Spaniards, and a sense that the UCI and WADA are out of control, trying to get the peleton to look like they want it to. Woe be unto Levi Leipheimer if things continue as they are.
The amount of good will towards pro cycling that’s been burned with the fiascos of the last two years is incalculable. If the regulators had been able to control leaks, provide airtight cases against dopers (or at least plausible), and acted swiftly rather than dragging procedures on and on and on, there wouldn’t be much sympathy for the accused.
Instead, it’s March, and Landis won’t have a hearing in front of the USADA until mid-May, more than 9 months after his alleged positive test. For a career that might last all of 10 years, that’s an eternity.
Is doping an offense against sport? Most assuredly.
But a larger offense is when the folks who are supposed to be leveling the playing field use the rules to arbitrarily knock out competitors they don’t like.