For the past two weeks, I've had big plans of writing a Tour de France post explaining how much fun it is to watch (no, really). The riders are amazing athletes, the strategy of the race is fascinating, and the announcers are some of the best in any sport. Unfortunately, last night I saw this story on yet another doping scandal in cycling. This time it involved one of my favorite riders, Alexander Vinokourov, and allegations of illegal blood transfusions.
I realize most people don't care about the Tour now that Lance Armstrong retired, if they even cared before that. But it is one of my favorite random sporting events each year. It comes at the slowest point in the sports calendar, when basketball is over, baseball is in its most boring stretch, and football hasn't started yet. Wimbledon and the British Open occupy a few days here and there, but the Tour de France gives me great sports to watch for three straight weeks.
The only problem is that I have to avoid thinking about the fact that most of the riders are probably cheating. Normally, I don't have much of a problem doing this. I watched Floyd Landis last year without even thinking of what drugs he might be taking. When the positive test came out after the Tour, I didn't want to believe it.
This year, I had managed to ignore doping yet again. I watched the first few weeks just enjoying the racing. Now, I'm not sure I can ever do that again. I was really looking forward to tonight's final mountain stage. I was ready to write about how exciting it is to watch world class athletes hit the wall and drop back from the pack. Now I have to wonder if those stragglers are the only ones playing by the rules.