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Tour de France and Doping ?

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  • Tour de France and Doping ?

    From Versus:

    Can the Tour de France ever be won without doping? Posted by Matt Walsh on 10/5/2010 at 12:33PM It's just not possible.

    Not possible to win the Tour de France just drinking mineral water, downing a hundred Clif bars and a ton of spaghetti and meatballs. No doping, no podium in Paris.

    We've heard that so many times before that it's a cycling mantra, a doping nursery rhyme. Jacques Anquetil, the first man to win five Tour de Frances once said "leave me in peace. Everyone dopes."

    Laurent Fignon, a two time winner, said before his death in August that he was sure the doping products he'd taken had contributed his cancers. Rest in peace, Laurent.

    So it goes and it only takes a quick look at the top ten in any grand tour to see how deep the problem runs. From Pantani to Heras to Sevilla to Landis to Valverde to Di Luca to Schumacher to Rassmussen to Ricarrdo Ricco to Mosquera to, very possibly, Alberto Contador. Anquetil pours another glass of champagne and laughs, "leave us in peace."

    It's just not possible said the bike shop owner in Vienna. Maybe you'd discount that kind of opinion but Bernard Kohl knows what it took to get third place in the Tour de France in 2008. By his own admission, he had banned drugs in his system 99 times when tested and wasn't caught -- it was that 100th time that finished him.

    "It's three weeks, 3,000 km and you climb (the equivalent of) Mount Everest four times. That's just not possible." Kohl told FanHouse at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's annual science symposium. Bernard ain't bull-shitting.

    When he was banned for EPO, Kohl bombed the descent into Hell but he's since scoured his soul clean and has little reason to push any variation of the truth except the genuine and original -- part of the nasty cure.

    Is it really true that mineral water won't get you a yellow in Paris? Garmin Transitions Jonathan Vaughters believes it's possible to win a Tour de France clean but it ain't easy. All the stars and argyle diamonds have to align. And perhaps anyone who could possibly beat you will have to be on suspension. Not an inconceivable scenario given the news these days.

    It's a beautiful sport, the most beautiful ever, breathtaking in every way. We'd like to disbelieve Bernard Kohl and Floyd Landis but sadly, we find it very hard to question their stories. Many will wonder about their motives and agendas but we don't -- there are simply too many positives, to0 many adverse analytical findings, too many lies and double that for hypocrites. Do not call the Mad Mennonite the crazy one.

    Doping doesn't mean that Lance Armstrong isn't a hero or Alejandro Valverde or Alberto Contador. It does mean the doping culture is changing at a slower pace than we'd like -- the cleanup moves at"piano," to use the Italian cycling term for slow.

    We would happily purchase a race bike from Bernard Kohl, buy a round of beers for Floyd Landis or sign up for coaching from the convicted Joe Papp. They made their mistakes, burned their careers to the ground, lost the thing they loved most and no longer have anything to protect but the honesty they've suffered so much to regain.

    Say what you will and make your own bargain with the dope devil. We tend to believe Bernard Kohl and his "not possible."