They're all cheats. They're all dopers.
That's the position of David Walsh, the author From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France. In his latest screed, he claims that Alberto Contador, the winner of this year's Tour de France must be a cheat.
He climbed the Col d'Aubisque faster than Lance Armstrong did.
Hmmm. Interesting logic.
Let me start off by saying that, yes, there were definitely cheaters in this year's Tour. Some of them got caught, and others probably got away with it.
Walsh previously stated that Lance was doping throughout his seven Tour wins. With all of the testing that stage winners and race leaders undergo. That would make Lance the luckiest man in the world.
So... let's look at some of his possible thought patterns.
Lance cheated and Contador cheated. Contador was faster. Contador must have had better drugs than Lance did.
Or... It's been two years now since Lance won the Tour and I still haven't been able to definitively prove that he cheated. Now, Contador has come along and he was faster than Lance. Is Walsh now saying that Lance didn't cheat and Contador did? That means that he has to acknowledge that his book is utter bullshit.
If Lance did not cheat, and others did while he was racing, does that mean that he was such an incredible physical specimen that he didn't need to cheat?
If Lance didn't cheat and Contador didn't cheat, does that mean that Contador is physically stronger than Lance ever was?
Here's my take: Both men were tested. Neither was found to be cheating. If we are saying that the tests are definite (and I think that we must), you have to look at other factors:
- Equipment: The UCI weight limit for bikes has not changed, but the bike companies continue to innovate. Frame weights may be similar, but they have learned how to make them both stiffer and more comfortable. Less energy wasted and less fatique. Also, you can't dismiss innovations in wheels and cranksets. Less rotational weight means that you expend less energy getting the bicycle up to speed and keeping it there.
- Weather: How hot & humid was it during Lance's rides? How hot & humid was it this year? What's the tolerance level of each for the weather?
- Mental toughness: Lance was acknowledged to be a fierce competitor. There's no question about that. Contador is relatively young and unknown. He could be tougher than anyone knows. Climbers are a different sort.
I know this has been a bit of a brain dump. I hate to give this guy anymore publicity than he already has, but I think that professional journalists, such as Walsh, should be held to some degree of integrity and proof.