Success – at what price?

The recently-concluded Tour de France has been described by many critics as the Tour de Farce and the Tour of Shame by yet others.

For some time the Tour de France has been considered one of the greatest sporting spectacles in the world. It highlights breath-taking sights along the routes chosen each year and brings to the world an abundance of cycling giants recognised for their endurance capabilities and outright cycling skills.

Unfortunately, however, the past several years have seen a significant transformation of the Tour de France with the unearthing of one scandal after another, all having to do with the use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists involved in the event.

Tour of Shame

The winner of the 2006 Tour de France was Floyd Landis of the USA. Landis failed a drugs test and was stripped of the title and the earnings that went with it. Like most competitors who have tested positive Landis remains adamant that he never knowingly used performance enhancing substances.

This year’s Tour was therefore expected to be the scene of a more concentrated effort on the part of the International Cycling Union (UCI), under pressure to preserve the integrity of the sport in the eyes of the international community. The result was an amazing and indicting array of drug cheats being exposed to the world. The BBC recorded on different occasions the following:

Alexandre Vinokourov has been sacked by the Astana team following his positive test for blood doping during the Tour de France. The Kazakh, who was Astana's lead rider and the pre-race favourite, failed  a doping test after winning a time trial stage on Saturday, 21 July.