So it’s nearly the end of the week, and I’m looking forward to the start of the Tour de France, starting this Saturday, and ending as always on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, July 23rd. The tdf is truly one of those great sporting spectacles, full of drama and passion. Somewhat marred by the plethora of accusations and counter-defences about drugs and doping.
The cycling news is full of names, new and old, from false accusations like Lance Armstrong (7 times winner of the tdf), David Millar (admitted charges and back after 2 years) to Manolo Saiz, the cycling team director at the centre of a doping storm in Spain, who has decided to quit. And the latest, just this morning, that Ullrich (this years possible tour winner) is now out. Yet it’s an old story, with new twists. Being of an age where I can remember the shock of finding out that Ben Johnson (US athlete) cheated to win the 100m olympics; I’m always disappointed about those who try and lie and cheat their way out – drug-taking may be one thing, lying about it is another thing entirely. So we’ve seen the crocodile tears of team and individuals, yet I can’t help feeling for Tyler Hamilton, a renowned cyclist, who answers his accusers direct on his website (see links).
I have absolutely no idea about the science of the accusations, the fact is that all his appeals have fallen on deaf ears, and he won’t be competing at this years tdf. The trouble with Tyler is that I, for all my human frailties, really believe him. He just plain walks talks and sounds honest and truthful. I’ve never met the guy and like people on the TV you see in the street – ooh don’t they look different, much taller, shorter etc – I have no real idea. But I do have an instinct, that he’s just downright honest, and for those of us who watched him cycle on during the tdf with a shattered collar bone (and ive had one – let me tell you I couldn’t walk much less cycle up mountains like he did), I’m in awe. I would really like to hear black and white argument that the cheats are, and the rest aren’t, and accusations are just that until proven. With poor old Tyler he’s being trashed in public. I just believe in Tyler and think there’s been a mistake. Trouble is we don’t really know. But a common dose of humanity suggests we try and believe in our sporting heroes, and for that reason I will still be around watching the TV and enjoying the TDF for the next 3 weeks. And Tyler and Jan (Ullrich), I’m real sorry you are not there.