I think it was J.Vaughters who said this was not a good year to win the Tour. The first year after USADA’a 2012 report on Armstrong, it’s only to be expected the spectre of doping would loom large.
If Froome had crashed out on the first stage, there would have been just as many questions on doping – just to different people. The questions would be asking Mollema about his spectacular rise to wearing the yellow jersey. Questions about how Quintana, a newbie at the tour, did so well on Mont Ventoux after attacking a long way out. There would have been more questions to Saxo Bank and Movistar about their performance.
It’s a sad aspect of the sport that everyone at some stage as felt let down after they later realised how prevalent doping is in the sport. It could well take a generation for the sport to recover from the legacy of doping scandals. But, until then, this will be the pattern of professional cycling. Do very well and prepare for the suspicion. I sometimes wonder about what would life would be like if I’d been a pro. To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t make it!
In some respects, it shows a lot of progress. The days of Armstrong steamrollering the press conference, despite bullying clean riders e.t.c – are hopefully over.
I wonder if part of the intensity of the current journalistic questioning is a sense that they were too placid in the Armstrong days. Despite a few notable exceptions, there was little scrutiny of Armstrong from the press corp during his seven triumphs. This was despite so much circumstantial evidence for journalists to ask questions about - it wasn’t just a case of Armstrong pedalling fast. It’s a sign of the times that Froome has probably had as many penetrating questions on doping this year – than Armstrong had in his entire 7 tour triumphs.
Perhaps there will come a time, when you can win the Tour de France and people will simply celebrate it as a great sporting achievement, but unfortunately, I can’t see it happening for quite a while. But, I hope it will happen sometime in the future.
Photo top I got from searching at Flickr – ‘Tour de France Press conference. Creative commons’
Play the Game is an international conference and communication initiative aiming to strengthen the ethical foundation of sport and promote democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in sport. It is run by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies (Idan), an independent institution set up by the Danish Ministry of Culture. – very apt!