June 11, 2008

Another Sad Day for Cycling

Boonen in the green top sprinter's jersey. (Photo: www.ftd.de)

Today, ESPN is reporting that Tom Boonen will be barred from the Tour de France this year after testing positive for cocaine. The green jersey winner last year as the best sprinter and the 2005 world champion, Boonen was expected to be a central figure of this year's Tour. He joins the entire Astana team, including last year's winner Alberto Contador, top American Levi Leipheimer, and German Andreas Kloden, on the list of top riders who will not be allowed to compete in this year's Tour. Michael Rasmussen, clearly the best climber in the sport last year, was kicked out mid-competition while wearing the yellow jersey and has not found a team since.

Rasmussen in the polka-dot jersey of the best climber at the Tour.

What will the Tour de France mean when almost every well-known name in cycling will be absent due to a variety of drug scandals? How can the fans have confidence that the riders who are participating are actually clean instead of just not having been caught yet? Only team Slipstream and their constant testing inspires any confidence, but even that isn't enough when reliable tests don't exist for HGH or for riders injecting their own blood before an important stage. Cycling just hasn't had any good news lately, and it leaves the sport in a precarious position.

The saddest part about Boonen's case is that cocaine isn't even a performance-enhancing drug unless taken during the competition. Unfortunately for him, it is illegal and enough to get him kicked out of competitions for this summer.

3 Responses:

J-Red said...

After all the blood doping scandals (which legitimately make you a better cyclist), a positive cocaine test seems almost passe.

Brien said...

Seriously? Could things have gone any worse for cycling since Lance Armstrong retired? You forgot to mention that Vinoukurov (probably the best overall rider around) is serving a 1-year ban.

bicycle said...

It opens the door for fresh young CLEAN blood (talent) . A new day . Lets see the glass as half full .

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