Mood swings: how to hang out with friends? Talking about doping in the Tour de France

Questioning the ease of the outgoing double winner Tadej Pogacar at only 23 years old, worrying about his dazzling climbing record on the Planche des belles filles is not good.

Saying that we are bothered by the ease of “our” Wout Van Aert , who in the Tour looks like an adult supervising children, is also very bad. It is even unpatriotic.

On the subject of the super-Wout, it should be noted that, this week, even the former champion of Flanders Tom Boonen (twice tested positive for cocaine, but outside working hours) says ” not being able to understand how such an outpouring of energy is possible, every day.”

Nor do I doubt the Danish Jonas Vingegaard, who finally offers us a disputed Tour, although it seems as easy as his Slovenian rival, framed by a team that, faced with the escape of Roglic and the fall of Kruiswijk, seemed to have an invincible army .

An ultra-polluting procession and a dough-making machine

Attention doping is not the only issue for which the Tour can be criticized.

First, under its guise as a benevolent guide to the land and beautiful places of France, it is an expansive money machine. As in Formula 1, everyone pays to be there, the cities, the regions, the sponsors. The astronomical income from the television broadcasts sold around the world, contrary to what is practiced in football (in the national championships or the Champions League), is not relegated in part to the teams, who live only thanks to their own sponsors.

The bonuses on the Tour are also quite low, even shabby, compared to the sums that tennis players, footballers or golfers receive for efforts that are obviously not of the same magnitude.

The Tour is also an ultra-polluting company, which makes no effort to take care of its carbon footprint. Yes, cycling is green, but the Tour is 150 cyclists accompanied by a procession of over 5,000 cars and coaches. Team vehicles, advertising caravan, fans, journalists, organizers, cars carrying VIPs (for the Tour and for each team). A long rally that spreads its diesel through the most beautiful corners of France.

A stubborn taboo despite the Festina years, the Armstrong years or Froome’s moped

And doping? oh yeah It’s very simple, we don’t talk about it anymore. Let’s avoid the topic. Most television consultants, former professionals, are reluctant to mention it. Laurent Jalabert , who spent the EPO years with the Spanish team ONCE, will never mention it to France Télévisions. the same for me Thomas Voeckler on the motorcycle Jackie Durand sometimes it lets loose a bit on Eurosport, nothing more. Among RTBF consultants, omerta is in order with pseudo-debates that always end with ” we have good races, that’s the most important thing “. It’s taboo, we tell you.

While this sport was crushed by the stallions of the EPO (Indurain, Riis, Virenque, Pantani, Ullrich…), discredited by the decade of leadership when the American Lance Armstrong (delisted for his 7 consecutive wins) imposed his law and corrupted the UCI (courtesy funding the fight against doping, while charging like a mule), then anesthetized by the Sky years with Chris Froome rolling like a motorbike and seemingly effortlessly through the last bends of Ventoux (” Spear out of this body! Rodrigo Beenkens shouted live), humiliating super climbers like Quintana and Contador.

Despite a bookshelf full of books detailing deception (read books by Tyler Hamilton, Jérôme Chiotti, Willy Voet, Antoine Vayer, Christophe Bassons, interviewed below or the late Philippe Gaumont ), reigns again in 2022 a modus vivendi that unites runners, followers, consultants and even journalists, without forgetting the subject, if not by word of mouth and with convoluted formulas like ” without wanting to get into controversy”, “without wanting to return with facts from an era that we hope is already over…”

Don’t ruin the business by evacuating doped carts

Has doping magically disappeared in recent years? Those who lived through the OEP years say that only a minority now practice it, but it still skews the results.

Anyway, it implicitly comes back with some amazing facts about racing. The already mentioned ascent record of a Pogacar not even tried. The decline of Bahrain in great form until police searches at the start of the Tour reduced them to the status of second razors. The collective strength of Jumbo Visma which every new recruit seems to immediately move to another dimension of performance and shakes the pack. We don’t talk about the American McNulty who magically became, almost overnight (due to the defection of other Pogacar teammates), a dominant climber capable of dropping Thomas, Bardet, Quintana and other Gaudus on two necks of the Pyrenees (it was this Wednesday).

Stage averages are still insane, climb speeds comparable to the adulterated performance era. And all this in clear water?

So yes, the controls are negative for both medical doping and mechanical doping. But this was already the case in the Festina and Armstrong years.

We see it, however, in other sports, a sports federation is always reluctant to ruin its own business by evacuating doped cars from its most popular events (this year we only evacuated the “positive” ones for covid).

And there are always ways to improve your performance through drugs that are impossible to detect. And in amateur cycling, that of fairs or veteran races, doping is denounced as ubiquitous. Like what, it seems inseparable from the rage to win, regardless of the level.

In 2008, the only year in which the French Anti-Doping Agency had free rein (according to the book by its former boss, Jean-Pierre Verdy), we were stuck in the same edition. Ricco, Kohl, Schumacher i piepoli which seemed weightless and multiplied the exploits.

Ricco’s management at the time (was the team Saunier Duval ) is still active today in the Tour… on the Pogacar team. In the video below, the head of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme (still in place) considers that the management in question is not “a model of virtue” (but still tolerates its presence).

The denial of doping comparable to that of global warming

In fact, doping is like climate change. We do ” As if nothing had happened “, we want to enjoy life until one day, what we did not want to admit or fight blows up in our faces, in the form of this summer of forest fires in regions never before or little affected by the phenomenon (Britain), in the form of terrifying floods that take away houses and factories like last year in the Vesdre valley but also in many other places in Wallonia.

There is, therefore, a denial of doping that is systematically reformed, as there is another of global warming.

It is not the same level of seriousness for the planet, of course, but it is the same process of intellectual laziness, for fear of being excluded from the great party and the dictatorship of spectator sport (the same as a World Cup of FIFA in Qatar this winter, in air-conditioned stadiums).

Regarding qualified pain in the ass” obsessed with doping “, of boys who “see evil everywhere “Well, we’ll avoid inviting him to the next barbecue, or the next drink on the terrace…

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