Vino was one of the last riders who were at the top of the sport during the Armstrong era who had managed to avoid doping suspision. Armstrong never failed a drug test but spent his entire career fighting doping allegations. Tyler Hamilton has the dubious honor of being the first rider to test positive for homologous blood transfusions. Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Joseba Beloki all seem to have been clients in the blood doping ring of Eufemiano Fuentes. Finally, Floyd Landis is fighting test results that indicated he doped to win the 2006 Tour de France.
Cycling has been suffering blow after blow as it tries to clean up its image and fight doping. With that fight, all the big stars seem to be falling one by one, and the fans are left without their heros to cheer for. But if the sport cleans up, then maybe it’s worth it. One thing is certain, the riders are victims of pressure from their teams and sponsors. In many cases the teams appear to not only turn a blind eye to doping within their ranks, but organize it. Some teams appear to even have made arrangements with the labs (bottom) that conduct the tests to help avoid or suppress negative test results. As long as this kind of thing is going on, it will be impossible to clean up the sport. And how long can we continue to blame and punish the riders for their teams’ actions?
Updated: The Astana cycling team announced Wednesday, August 8, that Vinokourov’s teammate, Andrey Kashechkin, tested positive for homologous blood doping following an out-of-competition test in Belek, Turkey on August 1. Read more.
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