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Alberto Contador winsTour De France

July 30th, 2007

It’s drug tainted and hard to like, but Alberto Contador is a likable winner. More specifically, it’s easier to cheer for a guy who three years ago underwent “risky surgery and a long, painful road to recovery” after he was diagnosed a blood clot n his brain.

But I also like the way the tour threw out so many possible winners, the yellow jacket that signifies the tour leader sometimes seeming like a target rather than a symbol of success. But, hard as it seems now, and I know one cycling fan who is disappointed in the pro tour right now, the amount of riders booted from the tour should be good for the tour eventually. Every year it becomes clearer that doping is not the way to win the tour and sooner or later that information will sink in to the riders. Sooner or later the riders will decide on their own not to dope. As long as the tour, and the professional associations associated with biking, keep making it clear that no doping will be tolerated, doping will decrease in the sport. Eventually.

Meanwhile, anyone who thinks that sports should just legalize doping and we can cheer for whichever drugged up trotter coming up the straightaway at the Derby that we choose, should read this piece from the Freakonomics blog:

Why Legalizing Sports Doping Won’t Work

It’s worth considering, as the Tour de France practically grinds to a halt as one after another top competitor is removed from the race under suspicion of doping, whether we might just throw the doors of the pharmacy wide open and say have at it.

Or is that such a good idea? If we play Prometheus to cycling’s mortals, what happens?

First, let’s set aside two logistical problems.

One, not all cyclists dope, nor do they want to… Second, not all doping techniques are created equal…

Read the whole thing, it’s a solid argument against opening the door to a “gladiator class” of athletics, including pointing out that even if you did open up the door, many doping techniques are also illegal, so you would have the same problem, you just moved the goal posts.

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