Following sports these days is getting almost as depressing as following politics. It almost appears as if cycling is trying to keep up with the dog-fighting scandal of the NFL, the game-fixing scandal of the NBA, the roid-rage scandal of the WWE, and the juiced-ball scandal of MLB. Or is it the other way around? Is it that the NFL, NBA, WWE, and MLB are finally just catching up with cycling?
Consider the sordid evidence:
The certain winner of 2007 Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen, was thrown out of the race after the 16th stage in a doping-lying-testing scandal--joining pre-race favorite, Alexandre Vinokourov, and three other riders booted from this year’s Tour for cheating (each of them vehemently and litigiously deny the charges).
The winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis, tested positive for performance enhancers and is awaiting an arbitration decision on his case (Landis vehemently and litigiously denies ever cheating).
The winner of the 1999-2005 Tours, Lance Armstrong, throughout his career never tested positive but persistent rumors claim he regularly took illegal performance enhancers (rumors Armstrong has always vehemently and litigiously denied).
The winner of the 1998 Tour de France, Marco Pantani, died of a cocaine overdose (alas, he is unable to sue anyone over the accusation that he was doping).
The winner of the 1997 Tour, Jan Ullrich, retired this year after being banned from last year's race in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal (yes, he too vehemently and litigiously denies any wrong-doing).
The winner of the 1996 Tour, Bjarne Riis, has broken this long line—not that he was clean mind you, it’s just that he has actually confessed to riding in the race while on EPO and other performance enhancers.
Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I think I’ll go watch some Little League—but, do you think even the kids are clean these days?