CyclingRevealed's Giro '07 Perspective
Rest Day 2- May 28th, Rest before a brutal 3rd week
A Level Playing Field
It's just over two weeks since the Giro started in Sardinia. During that brief span of time we have been inundated with confessions from many former riders concerning their use of drugs. Most of these riders were with the Telecom team in the 1990's. Few people seemed surprised when Bjarne Riis admitted taking EPO and other drugs during his successful assault on the 1996 Tour de France. Sadly Erik Zabel, who currently races with Milram, also admitted to using drugs during his time with Telecom.
Most of these riders are now saying that the use of drugs was rife during the 1990's. We all remember the Festina affair in 1998 which, apart from anything else, almost sunk the Tour that year. It has been suggested that Riis be stripped of his Tour de France crown. A worthy suggestion but then who should be recognized as the winner in his place? Jan Ullrich was second and now in addition to his connection with Operacion Puerto he has also been linked with EPO use while at Telecom. The third and fourth place riders (Virenque and Dufaux respectively) were both guilty in the Festina Affair. Carry on down the list and at least in the top ten you cannot find a rider untainted by the specter of drugs.
It is a sad reality that cheating will always exist in competitive sports. In most cases only truly gifted athletes rise to the elite level. If they are all cheating by using drugs or other synthetic means to enhance their performance then in a twisted sense of irony they are all on a level playing field. This is by no means condoning drugs but simply stating the obvious.
If Operacion Puerto, the Landis Affair and now the Telecom confessions (combined with the admirable efforts of the UCI, WADA and others) are truly having any effect, then we can hope with elevated optimism that the 07 Giro is “clean”.
These past two weeks the gifted athletes competing in the Giro have delivered some spectacular racing. We have also seen the best riders totally exhausted at the end of a mountain top stage. It is hard to recall having seen such a spectacle at the Pro Tour level. Our heroes now seem more like real mortals. Remember how last year everyone was astounded at how fresh Basso seemed throughout the Giro, apparently impervious to every challenge. Now we know why!
This spectacular Giro is now heading into the final phase. So far there has not been a hint of anyone failing the medical checks. Let's hope that they are all riding “clean” because if they are then this Giro has truly been executed on a level playing field.
Race leader Danilo Di Luca, can he hold on to the race lead ( Image © La Gazetta )
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