Essay on Tour de France Drug Abuse

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The question of drug use among athletes in what was previously considered by the unknowing public to be a rather pristine sport, cycling, is important in that it will affect all future Tours and will place them and the athletes under scrutiny. To begin with, in Europe until the 1998 scandal occurred, despite a few exceptions, cycling was considered a drug free sport. The 1998 drug scandal tarnished the Tour de France and the reputation and image of other sports. The media response to the scandal took differing positions on what should be done next to clean up cycling. The scandal also affected advertisements, sales, and without question the 1999 Tour and Lance Armstrong. Since even the most naïve fan no longer trusts the cyclists,…show more content…
Pedro Delgado even argued that somebody put them in his glass, and that he did not even notice it.
Still these incidents were considered minor in comparison to the sandal of 1998. “Nowhere has the disgrace of doping been felt more dramatically than in the Tour de France, the world’s most prestigious cycling event” (Wilson E6).
The scandal started on July 8 when Festina’s team masseur, Willy Voet crossed the French-Belgian border and was checked by French customs authorities. Driving an official car, issued by the Societe du Tour de France, nobody would have thought that he could be stopped. Voet was carrying plenty of banned substances in his car, which immediately resulted in Voet’s arrest. The drugs found in the car were erythropoietin (or EPO), human growth hormone, testosterone, syringes, and amphetamines. Voet confessed a few days after being arrested that it “was not the first time he’d ferried such a haul of performance-enhancing dope to big races, generally, as on this occasion, under order from the Festina team bosses” (Fife 201). As soon as the Tour arrived in France on July 14th, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) suspended the professional licenses of Festina’s sports directors, Roussel and Ryckaert, and put the leaders of the team, Richard Virenque, Laurent Brochard, and Laurent Dufaux on hold. The following day the Festina team was disqualified from the Tour after some of
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