You may think I have no right to post here as I am not what you would all recognise as a cycling 'enthusiast'. However I am a leisure cyclist and I have followed the Tour de France and Olympic cycling for a few years now. Whilst on holiday in Italy in June with my family we by chance were in Salo for the criterium round the streets just after the Giro d'Italia. I persuaded my family to stay and watch as I recognised some of the names that were in it e.g Basso, Bettini, Simone et al. In fact we had a great time seeing the riders up close and my 8 year old daughter was much taken with Ivan Basso - especially as I told her he was one of the favourites for the Tour de France. We even tried to get a Basso t-shirt for her, without success. When we returned she (and I) were very much looking forward to supporting Basso in the Tour. Imagine how I felt having to explain to her why he wasn't taking part. I watched it anyway on Eurosport and found it pretty exciting. But now we know how Landis managed his incredible recovery on Stage 17. So why have I bothered to register on this site just so I can put this post on the forum? Well, I guess all the people who buy Cycling Weekly all year round (and not just during the Tour like me) don't really care one bit what people outside the sport of cycling really think. Well, I think you should. Cycling as a competitive sport is a great spectacle, and a great way to spark the interest and encourage the involvement of youngsters. As a parent I am now disgusted at the hypocrisy that those inside the sport show. For example the commentators on Eurosport and on ITV4 obviously wished the doping thing would just go away and they could spout their usual hyperbole about the incredible performances and heroics of the Tour. Since doping and acceptance of it as a fait accompli is now (and maybe always was) endemic in the 'sport' it is not a sport at all any more. I know other sports are also involved in doping eg athletics, football, but it seems to me that without doping no-one can even think of being successful in pro cycling. This means I think that the sport that was becoming more popular - especially with Tour kicking off in London next year, will now wither and even die as far as the general public is concerned. I would think that will affect sponsorship, media coverage etc. and a lot of money will go out of the sport. Thats why I think keen cyclists should be concerned. I would like to hear some views on this - maybe I should just go away and not bother with cycling and leave it to you lot.
And by the way, I know that nothing has been proven yet against Basso, Ullrich et al and maybe never will against Armstrong (a particular hero of mine in recent years after reading his book). But with the (I think) 2nd to 5th placed riders from last years Tour chucked out of this years where does that leave the winner of last year? The best of the dopers? If I don't know who is doping and who is not, I don't ever want to watch a 'professional' cycling race again. Sorry.