Sunday, 20 January 2013

Le Tour de Farce

 Puppeteer Franz Walters at Vienna's Theater Monokel
with 'Les maries de la Tour Eiffel' from Jean Cocteau

"Go on, Lance!" I'd cry from the crowded sidelines halfway up a mountain pass. I'd be joyfully waving a large green hand or brandishing some other Tour souvenir tossed my way from the publicity caravan. I'd be dancing like a marionette. 

But now, sad to say, I am one of the many who feel betrayed following the doping confessions of the Tour de France 'champion' Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong, who 'won' Le Tour a record seven times, recently confessed on television to Oprah Winfrey that he had 'doped' in all of his 'victories'.

Yes, I was one of those gullible Lance Armstrong fans who travelled half way across Europe (twice!) to see my 'hero' in action. I stood with like-minded friends at the roadside and cheered and applauded  when the invincible strong man rode by.

At last, here is an honest Tour de France rider, winning by the sweat of his brow, his intelligence, his months of winter training, his sacrifices, and not only that but also beating his illness in the process. I defended him up to the hilt. I decried his rival Jan Ulrich and others who said Lance Armstrong was doping. If he was doping they would have found it by now, I said. And I said it often.

I quoted Lance Armstrong's words:  I am the most dope-tested athlete on the planet. They have never found anything.

And so I believed the 'great' man. What else could I do? I bought two of his books. And having read them I recommended them to people. To friends who had cancer. Inspiring, I said.

This so-called betrayal is nothing to me. I will soon get over it. Maybe I already have. We tend quickly to do so when we discover that our sporting 'heroes', our children's and grandchildren's role models,  are nothing but cheats.

Perhaps the whole dirty business will be a Tour de France watershed. Perhaps Le Tour will be clean from now on. Perhaps in future the punishments will fit the crimes. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. Like Le Tour itself we've been here before. Several times. It seems there's nothing more to be done. It seems there's no alternative.

A year is a long time in sport.

Millions of duped cycling fans will, in the absence of any credible alternative, simply have to shake off   their feelings of disappointment  and betrayal and after a time out for reflection build anew their hope and trust.

C'est la vie.

Others will feel unable to do so, they will no longer dance for the puppeteer.

Either way. It's a crying shame.


  1. Divine Revelations: Face to Face encounters with Jesus Christ
    Dedicated to people who have been given Face to Face encounters & visitations with Jesus Christ; and the important message they were given, Bill Wiese, Anna Rountree, Mary K. Baxter, Choo Thomas, Pilgrims Progress, Rick Joyner

  2. I watched his confession on Oprah Gwil and somehow even that didn't ring totally true. It all leaves one so cynical doesn't it.

  3. (I've taken this from my response to your comment on my blog - I thought it might contribute to discussion here):

    I've decided that doing my "bit" for cycling (an infinitesimally small, subjective bit, I know) is not allowing myself to be disillusioned by the drugs business -especially since a lot of the high profile stuff in the media is about the past. What could undermine my resolve is not so much the drug-use but the duplicitous behaviour -even the use of lawsuits- intended to intimidate those who have tried to expose it.

    But it won't. Cycling is one of the ultimate sports, if not the ultimate sport in terms of challenge. For that reason, if there is a way of cheating, there will be humans out there who will try to exploit them but this does not mean they should be allowed to destroy the sport. If there's a sporting equivalent of emulsioning the roof of the Sistine Chapel, it has to be the destruction of professional cycling.

    If what we do -run up mountains for fun- was as high profile as cycling, fell running would be ridden with drug controversies. We can and should try to eradicate drug use but the pursuit of glory carries temptation with it. It will always be a problem or, at the very least, a potential problem.

    Hemingway one said that "there are but three true sports: bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing. The rest are merely games." As a vegetarian, I think one should ditch the bullfighting and stick cycling in there instead.


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