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Question of the day: Can cycling recover from all the drug allegations? [Updated]

September 30, 2010 |  8:09 am


Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Phillip Hersh, Chicago Tribune

For a decade, I have seen professional cycling the way most people do a bad highway accident: You know something awful may have happened, but you can’t stop looking.

Cycling’s "grand tours" -– especially the Tour de France –- offer stunning scenery, and the riders are so technically skilled and fearless I am lured to watch, even if I do it with the same jaundiced eye I focus on other sports (baseball, football, track) because of the doping that has badly undermined the credibility of performances.

Neither the grand jury investigation into the possibility that seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong doped nor Wednesday’s news that Alberto Contador, the Tour winner the last two years, has tested positive will change my view of the sport.

Updated at 10:10 a.m.

Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times

In the near future, no.

News that three-time champion Alberto Contador has tested positive for a banned stimulant, and is now claiming he ingested it through some bad beef, is another blow to a sport that has already endured Floyd Landis’ positive test and long-held lies, and now finds itself in the crosshairs of anti-doping’s top investigator, Jeff Novitzky, in a Los Angeles federal grand jury setting.

The top target of that probe is seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong. So now we have a decade of winners clouded by doping claims, with new details certain to emerge in sworn testimony.

Cycling is a healthy endeavor, and those involved will continue to monitor the sport. The general sports fan is going to view this differently, though, perceiving competitions like the Tour as nothing more than a battle of dopers. Cycling needs a cleansing like baseball, and when it gets there, the rest of us can once again view the sport as an appreciation of fitness and endurance, not as nothing more than a chemistry test.

Updated at 10:57 a.m.

Gary R. Blockus, Allentown

Cycling will recover just fine.

The streets and mountainsides of France were still lined up with spectators for the Tour de Farce, uh, France, to watch the greatest doped athletes in the world showcase the power of their drug-laced bodies. And the fact that the pro cycling Amgen Tour of California, Amgen being the maker of the banned endurance performance enhancer EPO, is just another nudge nudge, wink wink at the mockery drug use has become in all of professional sports.

Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Alberto Contador, and the ever-mounting allegations against Lance Armstrong will not hurt the sport itself. If football fans don't care how their offensive tackles get to 300 pounds, and baseball fans really don't care about Jose Canseco milkshakes, why should cycling fans be any different?

Photo: Lance Armstrong rides past fans during the 20th stage of the Tour de France. Credit: Bernard Papon / Associated Press.