Ride the Puddles

2011 Tour de France, the Most Heavily Doped Race in Years

Posted by bikezilla on June 27, 2011

Alberto Contador learned his lesson when he got snagged for doping at the 2010 Tour de France. He learned not to use clenbuterol or other “lesser” performance enhancing drugs in the days leading up to drawing blood for later transfusion.

At the 2011 Giro d’Italia Contador dominated like a machine. He humiliated all comers and hardly broke a sweat doing it, giving away stage wins like a king granting parcels of land to favored vassals.

At the elite level of any sport, the difference between levels of excellence is measured in hair breadths, not light-years. Alberto’s dominance at the Giro would be expected if someone of his talent were racing against ProConti riders. But against a collection of elites?

Alberto’s competitors learned as well, both from Alberto and from UCI.

From Alberto they learned that if they are to stand any chance whatsoever of defeating him in this year’s Tour de France, they must be just as skilled and ruthless at doping as he is.

From UCI they learned that they have nothing to fear, regardless of how obviously they dope.

Because just a few months ago we saw the Index of Suspicion, aka The List.

The List was intended for use in targeting the most suspicious riders, those whose biological passport data indicated the highest likelihood of having doped during that season.

But that targeting of the most highly suspect riders never occurred.

Then, during the build up to the Amgen EPO Tour of California USADA was slotted to take over testing from the UCI and ran a three month program of pre-race blood testing leading. They had used that testing cycle to again identify the riders who were most highly suspect and formed their own Index of Suspcion, which we were told would actually be used for its intended purpose.

But just days before the race, in order to prevent just such targeting, UCI removed USADA from the in race testing program and took over those duties itself, tossing all of USADA’s work and its List out the window.

Riders are faced with a choice, race clean and be humiliated or dope to the gills and be competitive. Knowing that UCI not only expects them to dope, but tacitly condones it and will take drastic steps to protect dopers, we can expect to see doping at this edition of the Tour de France rise to new heights.

I also anticipate that we’ll see some performances that will make the best of Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador (to date) look mundane.


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