Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tour de France Woes

I'm not a cyclist, and most of what I know about the sport comes from a few amateur cyclist friends and of course, watching the Tour on TV.

Today's events, first the withdrawal of Cofidis after Moreni tested positive, admitted to doping and was taken away by French police in irons, and then of course Rasmussen being fired, certainly put the sport in a tough, tough spot.

What surprises me a little bit is how hard my wife has taken it. Personally, I think that if cycling is really trying to clean itself up- meaning the teams and the coaches are no longer facilitating doping by their athletes- it is going take more than one season. Cycling certainly has a bad history of doping, with plenty of disgraced athletes, and I think that the sport is on the verge of sponsorship meltdown, with the tipping point where the sport never recovers somewhere extremely close.

Yet at the same time, I look my favourite spectator sport, NFL football, and can't help but think it's little better off when it comes to athletes doping- although much better off in other ways, including sponsorship fatigue, where the Michael Vick meltdown is probably a bigger issue (see Nike). I think the league has a better drug testing system, but I don't think they test often enough, have tight enough controls, and the smokescreen of athlete privacy is used to prevent the general public from learning the extent of the performance enhancement drug problem the NFL has. The league is populated by literally super-human men of such bulk and speed that it simply defies any statistical explanation of how the population is producing so many men so large and so gifted- gifts that often lead to pain and suffering in later life.

The Tour is a beautiful thing, a wild, undulating mass full of personality, rivalry, excitement- and disappointment. But the last few days, it seems like mostly the later. Which is too bad. I'd miss it if it were taken out of my July...

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