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Tour de France riders suspended

The big news in the cycling world is the suspension today of top Tour de France contenders Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso.

Were they caught with drugs in their system? Steroids in their suitcases? Common sense would suggest that a top rider would need to be caught red-handed in order to get kicked out of the Tour just days before it starts. But cycling apparently works differently.

Basso and Ullrich are being suspended because of evidence that they've been "in contact" with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Since Fuentes is tainted by "being at the center of a massive doping ring," merely being in contact with him is enough to get a rider booted out of the Tour. To which I reply: you've gotta be shitting me.

I've been looking forward to this Tour for years. I like Lance Armstrong, but quite frankly he'd made the Tour a bit boring. He was such a machine that he sucked all the suspense out of the race (except for years like 2003 when Ullrich almost beat him). This year, with Armstrong in retirement, I couldn't wait to see who'd step up. Basso and Ullrich were two of the top contenders -- but now they're out. Sorry. Tune in again next year.

Adding insult to injury is the withdrawal of Alexander Vinokourov's team, spurred by the suspensions of Francisco Mancebo and Joseba Beloki for the same "associations" that tainted Ullrich and Basso. Vinokourov was possibly the most audacious and aggressive rider in the race, and now he's probably out too. We Tour fans might have to start scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a guy we can root for, and even if he does well, we'll never know how he would have done had the big dogs been in the race.

This is ridiculous. I'd like to see a higher standard of proof before a rider is suspended. If it's just too hard to prove that a rider is doping, race organizers ought to allow it. Then at least everyone will have access to the same advantages as everyone else, even if some of those advantages involve extraction and reinjection of your own blood.

You can follow the story at the Tour de France blog.

Comments

Try rooting for someone who isn't a likely winner.

You're a Cubs fan. You should know all about this stuff by now...

Hey, I'm used to rooting for underdogs. I've been pulling for Roberto Heras since '03.

Well, ok. Not really...

Carey wrote: "I've been pulling for Roberto Heras since '03."

It is hard to root for someone who was banned for actually testing positive for doping.

As for no one to root for, what about Floyd Landis and Chris Horner. Two of the best and both from the good ol' US of A.

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