The Macleans.ca Interview: David Walsh
The author of From Lance to Landis on doping, doctors and the tarnished reputation of the Tour de France
Marco Ursi | Jul 27, 2007 | 19:04:47
In what’s becoming a tradition, this year’s Tour de France has been tarnished by doping. Earlier this week, Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov, a pre-race favourite, was removed testing positive for blood doping. A day later, Italian rider Cristian Moreni tested positive for testosterone. Then Danish rider and overall leader Michael Rasmussen was dumped by his Rabbobank team and ejected from the race for failing to attend out-of-competition drug tests.
For anyone paying attention to the sport, this isn't surprising. Floyd Landis, Jans Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton, Bjarne Riis, Francisco Mancebo, Richard Virenque, and David Millar are just some of the racers tied to doping allegations over the last ten years.
David Walsh, chief sportswriter for The Sunday Times, suggests more names be added to the list. In his most recent book, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France, Walsh explores the culture of doping that has always pervaded the sport, from amphetamines, testosterone and corticosteroids in the 80s to today's EPO and blood doping. Walsh paints a picture of a world dominated by syringes and silence, where those who speak out against doping, such as three-time Tour winner Greg Lemond, are met with harassment and accused of "spitting in the soup."
Walsh spoke to us from Hamilton, Bermuda.
Macleans.ca: Have you been following this year’s tour?
David Walsh: Oh yeah. I do find it compelling in its way, but it’s a kind of a sick world. I watch it and then I don’t feel good having watched. I wish I had the discipline to completely switch off.
M: It’s sad to see Vinokourov and Ramussen win races and get taken down the next day.
DW: Why is it sad? They’re cheating. It’s sad that they cheat, but it’s good news when they get caught. What is sad is that the guy who’s wearing the yellow jersey now, Alberto Contador, is definitely cheating.
M: How can you tell he’s cheating?
DW: Michael Rasmussen went up the Gourette-Col d'Aubisque faster than Lance Armstrong ever went up it. Alberto Contador was alongside him the whole way. I’ve been at that race since the early 80s and I know what speeds they go up that mountain. The speeds the leaders go up at today are just illogical.