In a conversation I had yesterday with my uncle Paul, I mentioned that for the first time in a long time the Tour de France would be a true athletic challenge.
When asked why, I responded that the Tour de France was now drug-free and only the pure athletes were participating. No more EPO or Testoterone or speed or steroids or coffee or any recognized drug.
But isn't that the real problem? We're only poised to take on the athletes using 'recognized' illegal substances. And in a magazine article recently (I think it was Wired or PopSci) the assertion was made that the UCI and other Tour de France and cycling legislative bodies can only look for substances they are aware of.
And with millions of dollars at stake, wouldn't it behoove the teams and even the riders to find an edge with brand-new designer drugs?
I'm not advocating cheating. But until something is listed as being a cheat, can't it be used to help an athlete win?
Switching from the Tour de France to American baseball for a second, look at Barry Bonds. For the bulk (literally) of his career, he was hopped up on steroids. But the types of steroids he was using weren't detectable and the records he compiled while on the juice should stay in the books.
It's pretty much what all burglars and thieves say (I'm guessing because I don't hang around with too many of them), "It's only illegal if you get caught."
Well, for years that's been how cycling has operated. With two days to go before the 2007 Tour de France, I hope things have changed.