The question of drug use among athletes in what was previously considered by the unknowing public to be a rather pristine sport, cycling, is important in that it will affect all future Tours and will place them and the athletes under scrutiny. To begin with, in Europe until the 1998 scandal occurred, despite a few exceptions, cycling was considered a drug free sport. The 1998 drug scandal tarnished the Tour de France and the reputation and image of other sports. The media response to the scandal took differing positions on what should be done next to clean up cycling. The scandal also affected advertisements, sales, and without question the 1999 Tour and Lance Armstrong.
Since even the most na " ive fan no longer trusts the cyclists, drug-testing procedures have been instituted. Also, the question now arises regarding medications used by seriously ill cyclists. Certainly, future Tours will be significantly affected. The Union Cycliste Internationale and other sports officials are left with several burning questions; do they seek a better testing system? Clearly, they must protect athletes and the image of sports even though it is costly. Do they perform uniform versus random drug tests? Both are necessary to keep athletes and trainers accountable. In fact, the 1999 Tour promoted both forms of testing (Fife 208).
If they do random tests, how do they enforce them? On this point, committees and sports federations are still debating. For years cycling, a grueling, yet glamorous sport in Europe, has been fighting drug use and abuse. Despite a few exceptions, cycling had the reputation, in Europe and in France, of being a clean, pure sport, compared to others, until the 1998 scandal occurred. The question of drug use among athletes in what was previously considered by the unknowing public to be a rather pristine sport, cycling, is important in that it will affect all future Tours and will place them and the athletes under scrutiny. A Clean Reputation: The History of Drugs in the "Tour de France " In 1967, Tommy Simpson, a British cyclist, died during the Tour de France because of the amphetamines that he took. Succeeding years brought embarrassments: In 1978, the Belgian Michel Poll entier was suspended while leading the Tour de France after he was caught concealing a clean urine sample to trick testers.
Furthermore, in 1988, the Spaniard Pedro Delgado won the Tour de France despite having tested positive for using what is known as a masking agent, a substance designed to hide drug use, but one that was not banned by the Tour at that time. Pedro Delgado even argued that somebody put them in his glass, and that he did not even notice it. Still these incidents were considered minor in comparison to the sandal of 1998. "Nowhere has the disgrace of doping been felt more dramatically than in the Tour de France, the world's most prestigious cycling event" (Wilson E 6). The scandal started on July 8 when Festina's team masseur, Willy Voet crossed the French-Belgian border and was checked by French customs authorities. Driving an official car, issued by the Societe du Tour de France, nobody would have thought that he could be stopped.
Voet was carrying plenty of banned substances in his car, which immediately resulted in Voet's arrest. The drugs found in the car were erythropoietin (or EPO), human growth hormone, testosterone, syringes, and amphetamines. Voet confessed a few days after being arrested that it "was not the first time he'd ferried such a haul of performance-enhancing dope to big races, generally, as on this occasion, under order from the Festina team bosses" (Fife 201). As soon as the Tour arrived in France on July 14 th, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) suspended the professional licenses of Festina's sports directors, Roussel and Ryckaert, and put the leaders of the team, Richard Virenque, Laurent Bro chard, and Laurent Du faux on hold.
The following day the Festina team was disqualified from the Tour after some of the riders admitted to a systematic doping program. Nevertheless, the next day Roussel's lawyer issued a statement: [T]he Festina manager had informed the police that within the Festina team controlled doping had been introduced to safeguard the riders' health and wellbeing. The subtext of this was, naturally: we know all (or even most) professional riders take dope; we can't put our men at a disadvantage; it's our concern, our professional, responsible concern, to make sure they take safe dope in safe quantities. The can of worms was open. (Fife 201-202) Each day of the tour, new incidents occurred: police rough handling, fresh revelations, dismissals and strikes.
After two days of questioning, most of the nine riders had admitted to some level of involvement with the Festina drug program. Some, like Meier and Alex Zulle, confessed to knowingly using EPO. From that time on, the "Tour de France" became a very divisive and a very controversial topic in the French media. It was in the headlines of newspapers and a major subject on TV, similar to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in the US, all the more so because the Festina team was famous in French society for its victories and its strength.
The media, government and sports officials, race organizers, and private individuals have taken widely differing positions on what should be done next to clean up cycling. Nonetheless, the need to clean up the sport is imperative: Although Tour organizers claim their major sponsors are tied up on long-term deals, nobody doubts the heavy hitters would be able to cut off the cash if they decide they no longer wish to be associated with an event perceived as drug-riddled. Without that backing, the Tour and cycling would struggle awkwardly. If the war against drugs is not waged and won, a sport which has enjoyed a quantum leap in popularity could be plunged in a dark era particularly because of its tarnished reputation in 1998. (Velo-News 197) To avoid that dark era, Tour de France director general Jean-Marie Leblanc is taking a tough stand against the cheaters.
In an interview with the Paris daily, "France-Soir," Leblanc said, "In the future I would not let a team start the Tour which had had a positive drug test in the weeks preceding the race" (Velo-News 198). He was referring to Festina rider Christophe Moreau, who started this year's Tour, despite testing positive for an anabolic steroid five weeks earlier (Velo-News 198). Nowadays, everybody is concerned and affected by performance boosting drugs. The British newspaper, "The Daily Telegraph", interviewed ordinary cyclists who train at a 5 km circuit near central Paris.
One rider Jean Ligue z said, "Drug taking is an open secret. There are some old cyclists of 70 or 80 years of age who take substances from time to time just to get around a bit quicker. Equally, there are young kids who are not fully formed physically, who are also taking things. That's worrying" (Velo-News 198). The New York Times of August 3 delineated the new French law, saying it "would take drug controls out of the hands of all sports federations and put them under the authority of a new nine-member state council with the power to test athletes, bar offenders from competitions, and punish teams and doctors who violate the prohibitions with up to seven years in jail" (Velo-News 198).
The drug scandal may have been an embarrassment to France, but nobody who reads the sports pages could have been terribly surprised. As one New York Times writer aptly put it, performance boosting drugs once considered "the specialty of shady East-bloc coaches, are becoming as common as Gatorade" (Lemonick 76). In France, business owners were deeply affected by the Festina scandals because Virenque was so popular and appreciated. Being the official timekeeper of the Tour, Festina is a very popular watch brand in Europe specializing in stopwatches. Festina was sponsoring Richard Virenque who was extremely popular in Europe and who, along with other members of his team, wore a Festina stopwatch. Prior to the scandal, Virenque was ranked 7 th by the French in a survey, asking them to name the ten best athletes in the world.
Festina is a brand that many businesses sell. Over the period of several years, businesses sold many Festina watches, particularly during the Tour because of all the advertisements. However, when the doping scandal occurred, it became a controversial topic. As previously mentioned, the "Tour de France" had quite the reputation for being safe, clean, and pure which was one of the reasons why the race was so popular in France. Suddenly, it became a "tainted" sport like the others.
Business owners became quite worried because they had lots of posters in the shops of Virenque sporting Festina watches. When customers began coming into the shops and asking if the watches were doped too, business owners decided to take the posters down as the result of the Tour's now tarnished image. The effect that it had on customers was quite surprising. Business owners were not the only ones embarrassed by the scandals, the seriousness of which was just starting to be felt at the time. As the Tour went on, more and more teams and riders were implicated, further discrediting what was the "world's most prestigious cycling competition" (Deacon 43).
Various cycling administrators began to underscore the damaging effects of the 1998 Tour. "It will probably take years for the Tour to regain the grandeur it once had," said Patrick Healy, executive director of the Canadian Cycling Association. "And that's too bad, because it's a great race" (Deacon 43). Even Daniel Baal, the president of the French Cycling Federation and a vice president of the International Cycling Union was rocked by the crises. "I'm not able to believe any longer in sport," he said, " I haven't seen a race yet. I can't watch a fake spectacle" (Clarey and Abt E 8).
What is more, when Jean-Marie Leblanc, the director of the Tour, was ordered by the World Cycling Federation to permit Richard Virenque, a former rider for Festina, to compete in 1999, Leblanc said that Virenque's "name and image are the incarnation of doping" (Clarey and Abt E 8). Adding to the actual scandal at the time of the Tour came the confession that Virenque had indeed used drugs in the 1998 Tour. On May 11, 1999, after maintaining his innocence for a full 10 months following the 1998 Tour de France, Richard Virenque admitted to being supplied with performance enhancing drugs when police revealed the contents of a taped telephone conversation between Virenque and his attorney Bertrand Lave lot ("Virenque admits"). What was so offensive to the French public, the cycling world, and fellow riders, was that Virenque, who for more than a year protested that he had never in his life taken drugs, finally confessed. After more than a year, he admitted taking performance-boosting drugs and particularly EPO. Despite his protestations of innocence, Virenque had even refused to undergo blood, urine and hair tests to ascertain whether he had taken performance-enhancing drugs ("Virenque admits").
However, he added that the results of tests may have shown corticoids, but that their presence was simply the result of a nasal spray he had been using, a drug which was not banned by the Tour prior to that time. Frank Vanderbrouk, a rider for the team Cofidis in 1999, captured the disgust of other cyclists when he said: "I was stupefied [... ] When someone has denied something for a year it is not very intelligent to now admit it" ("Virenque released"). In fact, however, what angered many was Virenque's steady denial of his drug use. As late as May 11, 1999, Virenque vehemently maintained his innocence, as he was called before legal authorities investigating last year's "Festina Affair" ("Virenque released"). Not only did the doping incidents of the Tour of 1998 affect the reputation of the sport, media coverage, and advertisers, but they also had a profound effect on the 1999 tour.
Last summer, in 1999, the American Lance Armstrong, who won the "Tour de France," was accused of doping. It was the French who accused him of taking drugs. He was very offended, and his reputation was affected. Commenting upon rumors of his drug use in the French press, Armstrong, said, "It's incredible that they print this. Why do you print this? [... ] They don't print the truth" (Phillips E 2).
Armstrong's doctor in the United States, Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, told The Associated Press: "This guy is so clean-living, you wouldn't believe it" (Phillips E 2). Some Americans naturally speculated that it was probably jealousy by the French because of their embarrassment over Richard Virenque. Even so, when the French paper Le Monde announced that a recent drug test had revealed trace amounts of cortisone in a urine sample submitted July 4, the Union Cycliste Internationale cleared Armstrong, the U. S. Postal rider, noting that the trace amounts were far below the level required to confirm a positive drug test and that the substances detected were the result of Armstrong's use of a topical ointment to treat a saddle sore (Pelkey).
Though secure in his lead, Armstrong's focus on his last day was not on the Tour's final ride to Paris, but on the newspaper report that a French laboratory test had revealed trace amounts of corticoids in a urine sample submitted on July 4 (Pelkey). While Armstrong said that the Le Monde report was an expected fallout from last year's drug-scandal-plagued Tour, and while he added that he wasn't all that surprised at the level of scrutiny to which he has been exposed, he was still upset. "Because of what happened last year," he said "that's completely understandable. I only ask and I only wish that some people would be a little more professional and a little bit more respectful" (Pelkey). At the height of his exasperation with the French media, however, Armstrong finally addressed Le Monde, a very popular French anarchist newspaper, by saying: "Monsieur Le Monde [... ] are you calling me a liar or a doper?" (Pelkey).
Ultimately, dogged by suggestions in the French media that his success was linked to performance-enhancing drugs, Armstrong admitted that the strain of such accusations was affecting his outlook and his cycling. "I have been persecuted," Armstrong said. "It's bad for me, for cycling and for the Tour de France" ("Accusations"). In Armstrong's case, the French media are believed to have been merely following the lead of France's cycling federation, which is embroiled in a dispute with the UCI over the efficacy ofthe International Federation's drug testing stemming from last year's Tour de France drug scandals. Yet, Mike Plant, president of the USA Cycling, said that the French also are motivated by "sour grapes," because their riders have had a particularly dismal tour, not winning any stage of the event (Harvey 1). When Armstrong became only the second American in the 96-year history of the Tour de France to win the most challenging cycling event in the world, some people thought his story was too good to be true." The story of Lance Armstrong is inexorably good.
It is a very clear and much-needed story of valor that should serve as an inspiration for cancer patients and non-cancer patients alike. I would stake my reputation and everything that I own that he is as clean as he can be. He has a stronger will than any athlete I've ever seen," Plant added (Harvey 1). There were no positive drug tests in the 1999 Tour de France, a sharp contrast from 1998, when eight teams withdrew or were expelled for alleged drug use. Riders who rode in the race were subjected to perhaps the most rigorous testing in sports history (Neff 71).
In fact, the 1999 Tour riders may have been the most exhaustively tested athletes ever. "Even more improbable than Lance Armstrong's victory in the Tour de France was the final tally of positive drug tests during the race: zero. So, was the 1999 tour absolutely clean? Get real. You'd have to be really stupid to believe that not a single rider used any drugs," says race publicist Denis De scamps (Neff 71). Still, while Armstrong could not fully escape the cloud of skepticism created by last year's scandal, he adamantly denied using any illicit substances and passed three blood and 15 urine tests during the race (Neff 71).
Nevertheless, the Tour wasn't entirely without drug controversy. More than 20 riders, including Armstrong, were found to have corticosteroids -- which are banned -- in their urine, though at acceptably low levels (Neff 71). Dick Pound who heads an International Olympic Committee (IOC) working group said that among his agency's roles will be to oversee year-round out-of-competition drug testing. Until now, the IOC has been responsible only for drug testing during the Olympic Games.
Pound said his agency also will help direct drug-testing research and coordinate with sports federations so that the focus of testing is on the highest-level athletes. Sampling and analysis would thus be subjected to internationally recognized standards. "We want to ensure to anyone, anytime, that the tests and analysis are all on the same level," Pound said ("Fanfare" C 02). The Effects that Drug Testing Have on Athletes Being accused of doping is very embarrassing and very offensive. It is a kind of discrimination.
Doping scandals and rumors tarnish the athlete's reputation, notoriety, and fame. Some athletes have even claimed to be close to depression. The humiliation can be immense. Shortly after his victory in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, Frank Vanderbrouk was accused of taking drugs. His team was obliged to suspend him until he was cleared by the judge. He would not have been in trouble if he had not sought the medical advice of Bernard Sainz.
Sainz, a psychiatrist who was not related to the team and who was deeply involved in the scandal advised Vanderbrouk poorly. Vanderbrouk said, "I was near to depression. Almost three months out of competition, I thought I'd go crazy because I didn't know why I should be accused" ("Frank" 17). Current Drug Testing Procedure The problem of performance enhancing drug use has plagued virtually all sports in recent years. The drug testing procedure for most sports in general is as easy as taking a urine sample. When selected for testing, the athlete is notified by an official and asked to sign a form acknowledging this notification.
Before giving a sample, the athlete is invited to choose a set of two numbered bottles. Having given a sample, the athlete completes a form declaring whether he has had any drug treatment in the previous seven days and then he checks and signs that the sample has been placed in the bottles correctly. If the test show a positive result, the laboratory will notify the governing body of the sport, who will then tell the athlete. The consequences will then depend on the rules of the governing body of the particular sport. In the case of a positive result, the athlete has the right to have a second analysis of the urine sample. It is also possible to appeal and there have been successful appeals.
What is more, the procedure of drug testing is not that easy because male athletes must be stripped to the waist with their shorts to their knees and are observed. This procedure may cause embarrassment (MacAuley). Elite athletes are subject to year round random testing. Thus an independent sampling officer may call unannounced at any time and request a drug sample. However, sometimes finding the athlete can be difficult; it is unlikely that the testing will remain a surprise. Drug testing is unpleasant but seems to be here to stay.
There will always be rumors of undetectable drugs, masking agents, or surgical procedures to subvert the dope test. And always there is the fear that the testers are one step behind and will never quite catch up (MacAuley). Motivations for Doping For the athletes the pressure to dope is often so high because taking drugs mean higher performance. They are also tempted to take drugs because of huge prize money. Indeed, Begley comments in her article "The Real Scandal" that "the pressure to win is crushing, the millisecond difference between gold and silver can amount to millions in endorsement contracts and appearance fees and the banning of doping agents in some sports."What they " re all addicted to is making cycling -- this painful, brutal sport -- easy," Voet, the former Festina employee, said in an interview. The Tour de France, for instance, covers more than 2, 000 miles, many of them in the Alps (Clarey and Abt E 8).
After a few days of questioning, most of the riders of the Festina team admitted having taken some drugs. As was previously mentioned, some, like Meier and Zulle, confessed to knowingly using EPO. "I had good results without doping, but pressure from the sponsors forced me to jump the gun," Zulle admitted. "It was a personal decision, but pressure forced me to take the step. I regret lying and disappointing my fans, but there was nothing I could do. I have made a mistake" (Velo-News 4).
There was a huge survey done in December of 1999 to determine the reasons why elite athletes felt compelled to use banned substances in sports. The purpose of the survey was to investigate the causes of using two categories of drugs: one category that purportedly enhances sport performance, and the category often referred to as "recreational" or mind-altering drugs. The responses of the survey were placed in three categories of causes: physical, psychological / emotional , and social (Anshel 283). Athletes seek every competitive advantage and the rewards of success at the top level are great, both financially and in terms of personal glory. There is a huge pressure to train longer and harder and to take a scientific approach to nutrition and fluid and electrolyte balance, to seek an advantage through drugs. Indeed, many believe that it is impossible to succeed without drugs.
Though an athlete's motivation to take drugs is understandable, it cannot be condoned. First of all, it can be dangerous to the athlete's health and secondly, it is against all principles of fair competition. The List of Banned Substances The drugs prohibited by the International Olympic Committee, for any kinds of sports are the following: -Stimulants: used to increase aggression and competitiveness and to reduce tiredness and fatigue. They have a long history of abuse, particularly in cycling. -Narcotic analgesics reduce pain sensitivity and enable an athlete to continue training despite injury.
-Anabolic steroids are the best known of the drugs abused. They are mostly used for their anabolic or muscle effect, they also affect mood and aggression, which enables people to train harder. -Beta Blockers are used both to control the effects of anxiety and to produce bradycardia. -Diuretics are used to shed weight quickly. They have also been used to increase urine volume and dilution to make detection of small quantities more difficult. -Peptide hormones, also called designer drugs, are difficult to detect.
Human growth hormone is used for its anabolic effect. -"Blood Doping": most athletes have always been aware of the possible benefit of improving oxygen carrying capacity in endurance sport, hence many train at altitude. Blood doping is banned but exceptionally difficult to detect. -Athletes to increase the packed cell volume have used, or EPO. Its use is banned but currently undetectable. It is suspected but unproved that the sudden and unexplained death of some endurance athletes may be associated with the uncontrolled use of.
-Manipulation of procedures and other drugs: pharmacological, chemical, and physical manipulation of the drug testing procedure is also prohibited. This includes physical methods such as, urine substitution, and tampering with samples. Certain other drugs are subject to restriction such as alcohol, marijuana, and local anaesthetic's. Certain local anaesthetic's are permitted for local or intra-articular use, and then only when medically justified and with prior notification to the relevant medical authority. Corticosteroids are permitted for topical use only (by inhalation and intra-articular and local injection), and then only with written notification to the relevant medical authority. -Caffeine is not a banned substance due to its widespread social use and presence in many beverages.
However, the concentration of caffeine in the urine should not exceed a certain rate, which is 12 mug / ml (MacAuley). Furthermore, athletes have to pay attention to all medicine they take because drugs available both on prescription and "over the counter" to treat common conditions can contain banned substances. A simple pain reliever may contain banned substances. Athletes have a special number to call where they can get information about the substance they want or need to take. The most common performance enhances in cycling are EPO, which boosts endurance by stimulating the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and human growth hormone, (hGH).
There are no reliable tests for EPO and for hGH. On one hand hGH can cause grotesque skeletal deformations by stimulating abnormal bone growth and on the other hand EPO can turn blood in the consistency of a yogurt, making it too thick to flow freely. The misuse of EPO has apparently killed at least 18 Dutch and Belgian cyclists since 1987. In addition, if an athlete has been using stimulants too soon before the race, there is still the possibility of using "masking agents." Probenecid, for one, inhibits substances from reaching the urine. Many of the performance boosters in cycling can't be picked out in a urine test, and even blood tests are tricky (Lemonick 76). Conclusion The UCI and other sports officials are left with several burning questions, do they seek a better testing system? Clearly, they must to protect athletes and the image of sports even though it is costly.
Do they perform uniform versus random drug tests? Both are necessary to keep athletes and trainers accountable. In fact, the 1999 Tour promoted both forms of testing (Fife 208). If they do random tests, how do they enforce them? On this point, committees and sports federations are still debating. What about the athletes who have asthma? At this time only athletes diagnosed with asthma can use inhalers which happen to contain corticosteroids, an otherwise banned substance.
In the 1999 race, every athlete was tested several times. It was the first time in the history of the Tour that the drug testing was so strict and so effective due to the 1998 scandal. The UCI was trying to regain a good reputation by avoiding scandals. The drug testing thus became very severe in order to make fans and people believe in the "Tour de France" again. Still, it will take years for people to regain confidence particularly after knowing that a lot of banned substances and drugs are not detectable with a urine test which is, nowadays, the most commonly used test. Works Cited " Accusations Follow the Leader." The Washington Post; Washington; 22 Jul.
1999: D 02. Anshel, Mark H. "A Survey of Elite Athletes on the Perceived Causes of using Banned Drugs in Sport." Journal of Sport Behavior, 14. 4, Dec. 91, 283. Online.
EBSCOhost. 16 Nov. 1999. web Sharon; Brant, Martha, et al. "The Real Scandal." Newsweek, 133. 7, 02/15/99, 48.
Online. EBSCOhost. 16 Nov. 1999. web Christopher and Abt, Samuel. "Drugs Scandals Bedevil opening of Tour de France Future of Famed Race in Question." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3 Jul.
1999: E 8. Deacon, James. "The Tour de Shame." Maclean's, Toronto, 10 Aug. 1998: 43." Fanfare." The Washington Post; Washington, D. C. , 27 Nov.
1998: C 02. Fife, Graeme. Tour de France; The History, the Legend, the Riders. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing August 1999." Franck talks back." Cycle Sport. November 1999: 17. Harvey, Randy.
"Success Story: Tour de Lance; Armstrong's miraculous comeback from cancer to a Tour victory is worthy of an exclamation point, not a question mark." The Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif. ; 26 Jul. 1999: 1. Lemonick, Michael D. "Le Tour des drugs." Time; New York; Aug 10, 1998: 76. MacAuley, Domhnall.
"Drugs in Sport." BMJ: British Medical Journal, 313. 7051, 7/27/96, 211. Online. EBSCOhost. 16 Nov. 1999.
web Craig. "Drug sweep." Sports Illustrated; New York, 9 Aug. 1999: 71 Pelkey, Charles ed. "Etxebarria takes Pau; Armstrong answers drug charge." Velo-News, 21 July 1999. Phillips, Ian. "Armstrong Extends Tour Lead U.
S. Star Bristles at French Media's Drug Innuendos." Seattle Post- Intelligencer; Seattle, Wash. ; 15 Jul. 1999: E 2. Velo-News. The sensational 1998 Tour de France: Conquests and Crisis.
Boulder, Colorado: Velo Press, December, 1998." Virenque admits to seeking drugs." Velo-News Interactive. Velo-News; 11 May 1999." Virenque released after admission." Velo-News Interactive. Velo-News, 11 May 1999. Wilson, Stephen. "Doping Incidents Shake Sports from Swimming to Track & Field." Seattle Post- Intelligencer, Seattle, Wash. , .
1 Aug. 1998: E 6.