The wheels seem to have come off the Tour de France. This year’s race, with a ceremonial start in London, is of course absent the retired Lance Armstrong, whom Americans learned to love and the French grew to hate in seemingly direct proportion. But the race this year is also missing Floyd Landis, last year’s disgraced winner, as well as Ivan Basso (suspended) and Jan Ulrich (implicated in doping, and then retired). Former champion Bjarne Riis admitted that he was doping when he won the Tour in 1996, but his admission came after the expiration of the 8-year statute of limitations for taking back the yellow jersey.
Here’s my question: given what we know and don’t know about Armstrong, and the many doping allegations made and disproved, will there come a time in the future when Armstrong either admits to doping or is proved beyond reasonable doubt to have doped?
David Walsh, a controversial cycling journalist, has just published a book on the subject in the U.S. (it came out a couple years ago in Europe) in which he argues forcefully that Armstrong is guilty. These are not new claims, and so far the issue doesn’t seem to have gained much traction here. But I would be very surprised if Armstrong were not subjected to at least one more round of hardcore scrutiny before he is allowed ride off into the sunset, his seven jerseys still pristine.