FORMER AMERICAN cyclist, Greg LeMond, believes there are a number of illegal issues taking place within the sport that are damaging its health and its future. The three time Tour de France winner is worried that the negative “ego” in the sport means the only way to be the best is to cheat, and the only way to overcome this problem which has plagued cycling for many years, is to monitor cyclist from an early age, writes Steven Carpenter.
“I think testing needs to go beyond a drugs test,” said LeMond. “There are a lot of drugs you shouldn’t even waste your time on because the evidence of a huge performance increase is so minimal and instead they should be going after the real drugs that are making a difference.
“I remember the rumours going around that I had a kangaroo muscle, so there’s a psychological ego that goes on if somebody is better; they have to be cheating and it’s up to the governing bodies to make sure every possible step is taken to make sure that riders can trust the system.”
He added, “If you can test young athletes when they are young when they get a license by measuring oxygen and power output you can track them and see if something changes.”
Le Mond, who now owns his own business selling bikes, looks back on his “bittersweet” career in discomfort as the sport he loved and dominated towards the end of the 90’s is being overshadowed and disgraced by individuals achieving success through cheating and doping.
He also feels the Tour de France needs more regulation and would recommend separate drug testing independent from the sport’s governing body to enable transparency in the interest of the sport.
“The future of sports is you have got to separate drug testing. You have got to separate the penalties away from the sport’s governing body because it’s all self interest. There is drug trafficking and the stuff that they are doing is illegal – there are rules.
“If the governing bodies want to then it will be possible to separate doping and sport itself. There is a possibility, but you are always going to get somebody who is going to want to cheat, it’s like an ego.”
LeMond added: “The victims right now aren’t even competing because they are the victims of speaking out against trying to clean the sport up.”
Le Mond, who famously overcame a shooting accident to win his third and final Tour de France in 1990, also spoke of how cyclists who admit to using drugs are being ostracised instead of being offered support.
“In sports, it’s not like someone smoking marijuana in their house, it might be illegal if they get caught, but if they are in the house and unless they are going to go out and drive they are not going to kill somebody and they are not competing against somebody, but when you expect to compete and play by the rules and people are cheating they are victims.”