16 winner Michael Rasmussen was removed by his team for lying to testers
about his whereabouts before the Tour. In the following stage, no rider wore
the leader’s “maillot jaune” (yellow jersey). Not only did the 2007 Tour finish
without Rasmussen, the odds-on favourite, but also without two entire teams
that had started the race and a laundry list of riders who had been removed
for failing drug tests. The credibility of the race was questioned, and many
commentators called for its cancellation.
The French public seemed conflicted on prospects for the Tour, often resorting
to black humor:
Le Soir
ran a funeral notice for the race. One roadside poster
proclaimed, “Cycling is Dead, Long Live the Tour!”
Le Monde
–a longstanding
critic of the Tour – captured the dilemma, arguing that “even when it lacks any
credibility, the public still remain faithful to this spectacle.” Although 78 per
cent of the French public said they doubted the honesty of the results, 52 per
cent said they “still loved the race.”
In contrast, Germany–a country with a
traditionally high level of reporting on doping–was far less tolerant. Two Ger-
man public broadcasters (ARD and ZDF) cancelled coverage of the 2007 Tour
after T-Mobile, a sponsor long identified with German cycling, terminated a
$1.3 million sponsorship deal and diverted the money to support more strin-
gent drug testing.
The following year was little better. Italian Riccardo Riccò won two early stag-
es but was arrested by French police just before the start of Stage 12. Five
other riders tested positive for banned blood-boosting drugs, while Rasmus-
sen (once again a favourite to win) was dropped by his team for misleading
testers about his whereabouts earlier in the year. Finally, in 2009 and 2010,
the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport’s international governing
body, adopted new polices and a more stringent testing regimen that ap-
peared to work, and the race proceeded without major disruptions from
doping. At the centre of the new approach is a “biological passport” –an
individual, electronic record for riders and other athletes, “in which profiles
of biological markers of doping and results of doping tests are collated over
a period of time. Doping violations can be detected by noting variances
from an athlete’s established levels outside permissible limits, rather than
testing for and identifying illegal substances.”
GUARDING THE GAME Preserving the Integrity of Sport
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