Enough Is Enough, Riders Say About Doping

On the eve of this year’s Tour de France, riders protested angrily against the burden of suspicion they have been forced to carry because of the doping practices by the previous generation.

In a statement, the riders said it is degrading to be dragged through the mud and be run down by some who look to make money on our backs. The statement was issued after Lance Armstrong was quoted by Le Monde newspaper as saying it was impossible to win the Tour de France without doping.

The cyclist, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling, also said he still considers himself the record-holder for Tour victories. He added that his life has been ruined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation and said the USADA investigation did not paint a faithful picture of cycling from the end of the 1980s to today. He added that all the investigation did was to destroying one man’s life that did not benefit cycling at all.

A few weeks ago, sports daily L’Equipe said a urine sample from Frenchman Laurent Jalabert in 1998 showed traces of EPO, the banned blood-booster, when it was re-tested in 2004. The rider issued a statement in response to the publication, “Enough is enough!!!!!!,” and added today the limits of the bearable have been reached and we have for many years shown our will to work for a flawless fight against doping. Jalabert also remarked if there was a culture of doping in the 1990s, in the past 15 years our sport has been fighting alone against the plague of doping. He added that we are professional bike riders and we are proud of that but do not treat us like sub-citizens as you have been doing for too long.

In another development, Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters said cycling was cleaning up its act and the science points to a trend that racing is cleaner, that it is possible to win the Tour de France clean. Vaughters said cycling cannot let its guard down and we should gather information from the past to find a way to correct those mistakes the next time around.

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme backed the complaints of the riders and said almost every year a doping-related story breaks days before the Tour and remarked the Tour is a unique opportunity for some to communicate their message. Prudhomme said he can appreciate that some agendas have nothing to do with cycling but 14 times in the last 15 years, it cannot be a coincidence.

A former doper turned anti-doping campaigner, Garmin-Sharp rider David Millar, remarked it was important cycling learned from previous mistakes. The former Armstrong teammate said what needs to change is that we need complete truth and transparency into what happened in the 15-year era of the 1990s and early 2000s so we can understand what mistakes were made and we can make sure those mistakes do not happen again. He added this is because he thinks racing has cleaned up a lot, and he believes the Tour de France can be won clean.

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