After the Tyler Hamilton fiasco, I vowed to never watch another Tour. One of my cycling heroes had proven their humanity. Tyler had failed to live up to the image built by the media and in my own mind.
Like an addict who cannot help himself, I came back and was sucked in once again. I watched hours of mind numbing bicycle racing and I loved it. I watched as Lance Armstrong crushed his rivals and retired a champion. Even though rumors and innuendoes swirled around his victories, no one could or would bring charges that stuck. Under a cloud, Lance rode off into the sunset.
2006 offered a brand new era for the pro circuit. Everyone was waiting for the next cycling hero. As one of the most exciting Tours I have seen unfolded, another American seemed destined to once again bring the Yellow Jersey home to the USA. Floyd Landis appeared to dig deeper than his talent and through guts and determination found victory in Paris.
But no. Suddenly it came out that a lab in France had found too much testosterone in one of Floyd's urine samples. His victory was now on hold and he would have to prove his innocence after being found quilty by what turned out to be an "any standard they wanted" measurement. So whether he was guilty or not, he was guilty based on some lab's idea of guilt.
Maybe it was the fact that these two were homeboys that I hold onto the hope that they were given a raw deal. It had to be Euro trash envy of the American dominance the last 8 years.
I still hold onto that hope, but in light of the stupidity I have seen in this tour, I am having second thoughts. Vino! Moreni! And now Rasmussen! WTF!
I tend to bury the fact that professional "sports" is a business first and a sport second. Huge dollars are riding on how a team ends their season, their race, their games. And this industry is like any other. They will use whatever is available to pull ahead of the competition. I should not be shocked at what is going down and who is going down at the Tour this year. But I am.
There is always next year. Hope springs eternal.