Doping is more than just Postal
It's 2013 and time for harsher punishments.
This week I got hit hard with a virus that I swear I caught from this European journalist who was sitting in front of me coughing and hacking all day at the Cyclo-cross World Championships. I tried to write Monday, but my brain wasn’t cooperating. As I waited for my brain to kick back into gear I turned to the TV for a distraction. Which isn’t always the best thing to do.
I’m always overwhelmed by all the cable channel choices. Scrolling through the on-screen channel guide I’m unable to pull the trigger on anything. However, there’s usually “Top Gun” playing on a channel somewhere, so I watch that and call it a night. This is where we’re at with these numerous doping cases. So many choices I don’t know where to start!
Much like the television show “The Office,” different countries have their own version. The UK version is considered the best because it was groundbreaking. One of the original team-organized doping scandals that caught the media’s attention was the Festina team doping scandal. However, if you want to go “old school” with your doping scandals dig a little deeper - back to the 80s.
The eighties were magical times when neon-colors were the scheme of choice and shifting your gears could require you to reach for a lever on your bike’s downtube. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics rolled into my town. USA Cycling national cycling coach Eddie Borysewicz organized blood transfusions, known as blood doping. Technically this practice was not illegal, and it was banned the following year. However, not before four of the seven blood transfusion recipients medaled.
Not really a big scandal, more of a moral breach of sporting conduct. Because something is legal, but ethically wrong, does that make it right? That’s a question only you can answer. Moving on ...
Recently a soigneur admitted that when he was employed by PDM in 1988, seven out of eight riders on their Tour de France squad used banned substances. This is the guy who carried the team luggage and massaged riders and was also administering doping products. Reading this article I’m amazed that whole teams didn’t get sick because of some screw-up due to a person with dubious medical experience. Oh wait ... hang on ...
The nineties were the hey-day of EPO. And one team that was leading the peloton with team-wide organized doping was PDM. Known by the civilized title “The PDM Affair,” it showed how organized team-wide doping could go terribly wrong.
During the 1991 Tour de France the PDM team withdrew due to “influenza.” Drug use was suspected and according to a French doctor their fever was “typical of an overdose of EPO.”
From here we have continued drug infractions. The Festina team got popped in the 1998 Tour de France, but the big spin-off show for doping was the US Postal Service team. As we all know, under the leadership the now disgraced Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel they elevated doping to a form of art.
The Giro d’Italia also had its fair