I recently read this article about Greg LeMond and his hopes for the future of procycling
“Cycling is falling apart at the seams,” LeMond said. “It could take years to revive. I think it can, but only through drastic changes.”
I thought it was a fair assessment. True, cycling has been through some very turbulent times, with many of the top riders being implicated in doping scandals. However, the difference is that now cycling is actually trying to stop doping. In the past, it was all too common for the UCI and ‘cycling authorities’ to sweep the issue under the carpet. Furthermore, anyone who spoke out against doping was immediately sidelined and forced out of the peloton.
To get an insight into the mindset of professional cycling and doping, I recommend reading Paul Kimmage’s Rough Ride. Since his retirement, in the late 80s, I think the doping scene got even worse. If you have the stomach try reading Wily Voets ‘Breaking the Chain’ about the Festina era.
However, my feeling is that there are more ‘clean cyclists’ now than at any other time in the history of procycling. There is increasing evidence that teams and sponsors will not tolerate doping scandals. In the past it was argued doping was encouraged by sponsors eager for victories. But, now sponsors are realising that professional cycling can all to easily lead to negative advertising. (Personally, I couldn’t buy a Festina watch, without the constant reminder of the doping scandal)
With the Astana team being kept out of the Tour de France and the Giro D’Italia it is a sign that doping scandals are a serious problem. In the past, look how easily dopers were assimilated back into the peloton.
I will never forgive the way Richard Virenque was welcomed back into the peloton after the most pathetic punishment and despite taking industrial quantities of drugs and being a serial lier.
Perhaps a cynic will say I am being overly optimistic. But, maybe, the tide is turning and the future of procycling will, if not drug free, at least be regulated by bodies who are actually trying to stop the menace of doping. – Something that didn’t happen in the past.
I was really shocked to hear that Greg Lemond was allegedly blackmailed by the Lawyer of Floyd Landis. According to the article it is said that in Landis’ court case the lawyer threatened to make public (previously private) revelations that Lemond was the victim of sex abuse; this, just because he didn’t want to testify in favour of Landis.
In my view Lemond is the real hero of American cycling.