More doping scandals from the Tour; an entire sport in crisis. But what can be done? Even more drugs testing? Make controlled levels of drugs use acceptable as some have — incredibly — suggested?
No of course not, that would just be stupid. The argument seems to be that because doping is rife, it should be made legal. Rather than penalise people for using drugs, everyone should be allowed to use them, making it a level playing field/mountain stage. An idiotic idea when you consider the practicalities…
For one thing, once you have an “acceptable level” of drugs use that all riders are able to stay within, then sure enough some riders will step beyond the mark, and so you will still have the races thrown into disarray when riders or teams are forced to bow out.
Secondly, what do you say to young riders starting off in cycle racing? Step 1: buy bike. Step 2: shave legs, apply lycra copiously. Step 3: get fit. Step 4: get even fitter by buying drugs from drug dealer, begin course of potentially lethal drug injections. Step 5: remember that it is only for cycling that you should take drugs, not in any other circumstances, because outside of the sport drugs are bad.
So if testing is already about as stringent as it can get (without hiring a policeman to follow every tour rider so closely they are practically inside their lycra) and legalising doping is Just Plain Dumb, what can be done?
I have a simple, inexpensive and practical solution….
Ban all cyclists from the Tour de France. They’re nearly all cheating. Instead, the race would consist of the motorcycle outriders racing each other and dodging insane spectators. No more drugs, faster speeds, more excitement and no pesky cyclists getting in the way.
The rules would be that every motorbike outrider must have a passenger with a TV camera. This would make the televisual possibilities almost endless — every stage of the race would be filmed not only by the world’s TV but by every competitor too.
Points would be awarded for avoiding all spectators from the start of the tour to the end, and points deducted if you run over a spectator. 5 points for a scrape, 10 points for a knocking-down, 20 points for hospitalisation.
Picture source: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
The motorbike outriders would follow the same route, and have their bikes, sunglasses and underpants sponsored. At the end of each stage the winner would be entitled to wear The Yellow Helmet on the next stage. Of course each stage win would be celebrated with copious amounts of champagne and young women being sprayed around dramatically just like at Formula 1 races.
For added excitement, Tour cyclists who have formerly been caught taking drugs on the Tour will be rolled out in front of the main motorbike outrider peloton, strapped to their bikes, for the motorbike riders to aim for. A direct hit earns the motorcyclist 20 bonus points, taking a wheel off 10 points, and so on.
You see? Simple, inexpensive, televisual, packed with new advertising and sponsorship opportunities and only dangerous for the mad Tour spectators and drugged-up cyclists. Bargain, non?
Disclaimer: I commute on my bicycle 9 miles to work and back each day, but do not wear lycra or take drugs.
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