We’ve been chronicling the potential for 2010 to mark the first post-doping era Tour de France, as it apparently (so far) was for the Giro d’Italia.
It’s not going to be easy.
The French are in a major political spat with the official governing (and dope-testing) agency, the International Cycling Union (Union Cycliste Internationale, or UCI), over drug testing for the upcoming tour. The French asked a third body, the World Anti-Doping Agency, for authority to do around 60 extra tests on this year’s Tour.
WADA has turned down the request, but we doubt the French will go quietly away. This kind of pressure, however, is exactly what’s needed to ensure a clean Tour can actually happen.
The other subtext on this year’s Tour will be the riders themselves. For the first time, a dynamic has been set up for clean riders to be the watchdogs. The ethic has turned from “I have to do it because the Team says so and everyone else does it anyway” to “It’s time to stop the lies and deception.”
Finally, the testing that is being done is more sophisticated this year.
It all adds up to an intriguing side show for this year’s Tour. Bottom line will be: Can we trust the UCI to do proper testing, and will the tenor of the Tour be clearly post-doping as it was in the Giro?