I have been into cycling since about 1995. I caught my first Tour on the T.V. around that time. I was captivated, awesome scenery coupled with the drama of the tour made for awesome T.V. I guess I was a little naive and really didn't know the dark under current that was perversive in the sport.
I watched year after year from then on. I loved Jan Ulrich's tour win taking the title of his team leader Barne Riis who was the defending champion. Richard Virenque winning 5 or 6 King of the Mountains in a row. Little Marco Pantani defying the odds with his awesome come back victory. Unfortunately, they were all caught cheating (well Ullrich "retired" before he could be found guilty but was implicated in a drug ring) the very sport they were supposed to love.
Then came Lance Armstrong and all was good with the world again. Even he, the most tested athlete in history, was tainted by the drugs. I firmly believe he was clean, but I'm an optimist. I want to believe.
After the on going fiasco with last years tour, it had to be squeaky clean this year. In every sense of the word. It was looking good. We had the drama of Vinokorov falling and then his heroic time trail victory and stage victory in the Pyrenees. Last year was almost forgotten. And then the bombshell. Vino and his team were thrown off the tour and he was found guilty of blood doping. Then today Rasmussen who was leading, was thrown off the tour for irregularities in off season dope testing. These two incidents are another slap in the face, in a long line of slaps in the face.
It's not the other riders, or the sponsors, or even the organizers of the tour that are hurt most. It's you and me, the cycling fan. The guys who will never make a bean from cycling, but race and train in the rain and the wind and the incessant attacks from Magpies in the Spring. All for the love of the sport. The drug cheats are killing it for everyone and have to be stopped.
What can we do?
We can hit the cheats were it hurts. In the pocket. We're the guys who buy the bikes and the wheels and the group sets and the team shirts, and show up to watch the pro's. There would be no pro cycling without us. So lets all make a stand. Let us agree, as cycling fans, to boycott the sponsors and teams of drug cheats. Lets not fuel the vicious circle any longer. We owe it to ourselves...