On Wednesday, the United States Anti-Doping Agency released a report in which 11 of Lance Armstrong's former cycling teammates came out publicly and said they had testified against him, even alleging him to be the ring leader of the "…most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
These accusations not only mark the American with another indelible stain on his image, but also on the sport of cycling itself. Armstrong was widely recognized as the greatest cycler the world had ever seen before multiple doping allegations clouded his accomplishments.
Just two months before, Armstrong gave up his fight against the USADA, all but admitting his usage of performance-enhancing drugs. The man who won 7 straight Tour de France titles after beating testicular cancer is now spending his time labeling the case against him "an unconstitutional witch hunt".
In light of it all, the obvious question is: Why should cycling fans even care about the Tour de France anymore if all they're going to hear about is alleged doping practices instead of clean victories?
A New York Times graphic showed that in the last 15 Tour de France races, 12 of the winners (4 men in total) have at one point tested positive for using performance-enhancing drugs. Furthermore, 58 cyclists who finished in the top 10 in the last 15 years have tested positive for doping. Essentially, it was almost impossible to break into the top ten without doping.
In response to a question of whether these allegations have tainted the sport, USA Cycling President Steve Johnson stated, "I think it has, yeah, I think that the public disclosures in sort of the way the information is managed is very disruptive to the sport and has cast the sport in an unfavorable light."
That's putting it lightly. The recent news has seriously hurt the sport and has cast doubt on its integrity. T he past two winners of the Tour have been declared clean, but in 2011, four cyclists who finished in the top 10 tested positive for doping.
So far, no cases from this past year's race have been brought forward, but it seems quite possible that other doping allegations will arise – as recent history has dictated to us, it's only a matter of time.