Ticks Blick, 27.01.04
Doping has raised its ugly head again this week. The biggest news continues to come out what we are not to call the "Cofidis Affair." Allegedly, Philippe Gaumont has admitted to not only using but also selling illegal, performance-improvement drugs. And he has apparently also insinuated that he going to go down alone, he is willing to name names.
Johann Museeuw is proud to tell us that his blood and urine were found to be free of drugs, Frank Vanderbroucke has to face drug possession charges from a raid two years ago, the UCI says it has tests to spot recent blood transfusions, the french want to ban untrained, unlicensed soigneuers, evidently the source of all evils.
What is happening to our sport? Or has it already happened, and either we didn't notice it, or chose to ignore it? Do all of th eriders use something illegal? Is there a conspiracy concerning the drug tests, so that only a few are "caught"? Is David Moncoutie really the only clean rider out there?
But the most important question is: how do we, as fans, feel about it all? There are those who say the problem doesn't exist. Other say, "they all use drugs, they're not worthy of my attention, I won't be a fan any more." I choose the middle path: yes, some use drugs. Maybe many of them do. I don't know. But I still love to see the sport: the seriousness and joy on the face of these well-trained young men as they talk about their sport; the frantic sprints; the strenuous, exhausting climbs; yes, "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat"; the graceful and liquid flow of the peloton, like a school of fish; falling down and getting up and rider further; the heart-stopping descents with the riders nearly flat on their bikes; the feelings of friendshp so obvious among this group of men -- and their occasional spats; the concentration and intensity in the eyes of an expert time-trialer; the deceptively motionless upper body of a cyclist, with his legs pumping away furiously, automatically and endlessly ... all these are the things that make cycling so special to me.