Local article on Beltran's positive...


New Member
Jan 24, 2002
Something from the local media...

Use it - don't use it...

Tour de France: scandal starts up again
Every year, cycling’s biggest race rolls around in July; it usually leaves us with a bad taste from the doping scandals that threaten to suffocate the sport. Every year, the tour begins with much hope that media will be able to focus on the racing action. Instead, every year throws up yet another scandal in a sport where scandal seems to be a weekly occurrence.

The 2008 Tour de France represents the 10-year "anniversary" of the start of the calamitous doping saga, at least for the current era of cyclists (lest we forget, in 1903, cyclists in the Tour used to take strychnine and wine to dull the pain – the first case of sports doping, perhaps?).

But it was the 1998 Tour that started the current perceptions. Remember the Festina scandal? A Belgian massage therapist, ***** Voet, was pulled over at a border crossing and found to have dozens of illegal substances in his car. He was on the way to the Tour de France, and the drugs were intended for riders on his Festina team.

Police raids, rider disqualifications, tearful confessions and angry denials characterised that particular Tour. Sadly, we have experienced the same in every Tour since.

Last year's incidents cast shadow over 2008 tour
Last year, despite promises and assurances that the sport was cleaning up its image, the Tour was rocked throughout by numerous high profile doping cases. First it was Alexander Vinokourov, one of the heroes of cycling for his tough, never-say-die attitude, who tested positive for blood doping, a practice where a rider takes either his own blood or that of another person, and transfuses it to gain a performance advantage. His expulsion, and that of his team, was all the more painful because he was one of the last hopes for the "human spirit and courage" in the sport.

It got worse. One week later, one of the more exciting tours in recent years (from a competitive point of view, the racing was incredible) was rocked when Michael Rasmussen, the man wearing the coveted yellow jersey of race leader, was fired by his team, Rabobank, for lying about his whereabouts during the months leading up to the race. Riders are required to inform their teams and the cycling governing body of their whereabouts at all times, to minimise the chances of them disappearing into the wilderness to dope while training.

Rasmussen's dismissal meant that the yellow jersey changed hands at a hastily convened midnight press conference, a scandal from which the race never really recovered.

There were other positive tests, and other riders who left the tour disgraced, but it was these two who stole the headlines. Many European newspapers refused to cover the actual cycling action as a result, and the only press coverage of the Tour in Europe (where cycling is second only to football in popularity) was that of the shameful doping allegations.

'Big deal'
Thus burned, 2008 began with hope and optimism, but a bit of a handicap: defending champion Alberto Contador currently rides for a team previously disgraced by doping, and thus not invited to participate in this year’s race. Still, it got off to a decent start – no positive tests for the first week.

But then Manuel Beltran of the LiquiGas team was expelled from the tour after testing positive for a drug called EPO over the weekend. Riders have used EPO for perhaps 25 years: it stimulates the production of red blood cells which help carry oxygen to the muscles, improving performance.

In what is a sign of the times and our own malaise and lethargy ("another drug scandal, big deal"), this expulsion has gone relatively unnoticed in the non-cycling community. The tour organisers have even dismissed it as an "inevitable" positive test, considering that 188 riders take part in the tour.

Beltran, a Spanish rider and former teammate of Lance Armstrong, has requested that his B-sample be tested before he is found guilty. The normal process is to collect two separate samples; the name of the rider is not supposed to be released until both the A and B samples have tested positive. This is an example of how the system is also at fault, because such deviations from standard procedure opens the sport’s governing bodies to legal attack. The incentive to dope can only be strengthened by the fact that it is possible to challenge a positive test on the grounds of improper procedures. For this reason, the authorities should be above reproach, which clearly, in this instance, they are not.

Proving innocence a difficult task
What complicates matters is that one cannot prove innocence. Recent times have proven that a negative test means very little, since athletes now have access to drugs that are untraceable. The scepticism that has grown over the last ten years cannot therefore be squashed, and most observers, exposed only to the negative media coverage of doping stories, inherently believe that no cyclist is clean.

As for the future, cycling faces its own version of a mountain climb in the Pyrenees. It must try, somehow to win back the trust of fans and, most importantly, sponsors. The sponsors have flocked away from the sport in the last two years, their patience finally wearing thin thanks to scandal after scandal.

That has provided much of the impetus to actually clean the sport up – nothing speaks as loudly as money and when the money is walking out the door, the governing bodies tend to react.

Until then, the 2008 tour rolls on. It has been an extremely open tour, and the excitement should really begin today as the race hits the high mountains. But whether we’ll make it to Paris in two weeks’ time is another story. Ultimately, it depends on how much hope you have left. Perhaps this will be the year?
To be honest this time around I think they played it well. Rather than let it drag out for days they just go on with the bike racing. Last year was just stupid. Whats the point of talking about Beltran for the next 10 days ? None. We already knew what he was up to most of his career there was no surprise with the positive. Move on.
whiteboytrash said:
To be honest this time around I think they played it well. Rather than let it drag out for days they just go on with the bike racing. Last year was just stupid. Whats the point of talking about Beltran for the next 10 days ? None. We already knew what he was up to most of his career there was no surprise with the positive. Move on.
It's the media who drive the longevity of the story though isn't it? If it was Cadel Evans or Valverde testing positive.... different story.