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Are They All Dirty? Does It Matter? Should We Care?
Austin Murphy
July 02, 2007
On the eve of the 2007 Tour, new revelations about doping in cycling, including a book that implicates Lance Armstrong, have removed the last vestiges of the sport's credibility
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July 02, 2007

Are They All Dirty? Does It Matter? Should We Care?

On the eve of the 2007 Tour, new revelations about doping in cycling, including a book that implicates Lance Armstrong, have removed the last vestiges of the sport's credibility

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FDREU: crazy! it' [sic] just keep going to new levels

This spicy little back-and-forth was printed by Betsy Andreu and entered into evidence at the SCA hearing. What it suggests is that members of Armstrong's team had their own blood drawn after the Dauphin� Lib�r�, a warmup race before the Tour de France; that they saved it to reinject during the Tour; that they did poorly in Stage 8 of the Tour because they hadn't received their blood packets; and that the blood was brought in by motorcycle, in refrigerated panniers, and injected into the riders on their rest day.

Soon after the IM exchange came to the attention of Armstrong's people, Vaughters heard from one of the Texan's lawyers and hastily produced an affidavit explaining that he'd just been passing on second- and third-hand gossip.

It is cycling, unfortunately, that cannot be taken seriously. Vaughters's recantation does not change the fact that his sport is awash in pharmaceuticals and doped blood. Vaughters, in fact, has emerged as a powerful force against doping in cycling. "Obviously the sport is enormously tarnished," he recently allowed. "This is, beyond doubt, the darkest time since I've been in cycling."

But there is hope. Vaughters retired from racing in 2003, at age 29. With $50,000 of his own money he started a team of young U.S. riders. Four years later Team Slipstream, based in Boulder, Colo., is generating serious buzz in velo circles. Yes, it races in the equivalent of Triple A cycling, but it's also drawing praise for an antidoping program that is considered a model for the sport.

All of Slipstream's riders submit, at least once a week, to blood and urine tests administered by the independent Agency for Cycling Ethics. "It's nothing scheduled," Vaughters explains. "You get a call, you have this many hours to go in." The tests establish baseline blood levels for each rider. Should any of his levels fluctuate suspiciously, the rider faces suspension.

Among the teams that will take the start in London on July 7, only CSC and T-Mobile have similar in-house testing programs. Which means that 19 other teams don't. So there will definitely be doped riders in the race. Again. What's a cycling fan to do?

I'm going back to the Tour. It is that intoxicating. For all of cycling's pathologies, I can't think of a more inspiring sight than a group of climbers clawing their way over the Col du Galibier. And when I'm looking for a sport with more integrity, I'll grab the remote and surf for some pro wrestling. �

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