The Ghost of Anquetil

"You can’t ride the Tour de France on mineral water alone."

Jacques Anquetil’s corpse may end up rueing the day the living Anquetil uttered those casual words. Because if today’s reactions to the L’Equipe Armstrong doping story are any indication, WADA’s Dick Pound may soon take shovel in hand and start digging up deceased Tour winners to see what illicit substances are in their bones. "But
what is good for me is it’s a lesson to anybody using drugs that we may
not catch you on day one, but sooner or later, the truth will come out," said Sheriff Pound.

If Armstrong’s 1999 sample is fair game, why not question how Indurain bagged five Tour wins? What about Merckx? Was he clean? Anquetil as much as admitted that he and the entire peloton were doping — can his five Tour wins stand?

I think it’s fair to state that attitudes about doping have evolved over the years toward a less tolerant point of view. But there’s an unattractive moralistic streak that’s evolved with it — a notion that doping, no matter when it occurred, is more than just a violation of the rules of fair play. It’s a sin against sport. So we have Dick Pound practically vowing to reach into the past and punish "violators."

So what are the limits? Is any cyclist fair game, no matter how long ago he or she hung it up? And is the game of "gotcha" now more important than the sport itself, rather than a sideshow?

I don’t have any sympathy for those who use performance enhancing drugs. Get caught, get sanctioned is my opinion. I’m particularly lacking in empathy for teams and family members who encourage doping. But let’s keep the testing and the sanctions in the present, where the rules are known to all and we’re not inclined to apply a contemporary sense of right and wrong on the past.

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