Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sour French Grapes

They're at it again. France hasn't managed to field a legitimate Tour contender -- let alone a Tour champion -- since Fignon nearly 20 years ago. That Thomas Voekler garners as much camera time as he does while huffing and puffing at the back of the peloton is indicative of the poor state of French cycling. So, what do the French do when they can't win the race? Well, they dump on the winner, of course. That's the French style.

France's L'Equip now claims that it has tested backup urine samples that Lance Armstrong allegedly gave in 1999 and that several of the backup samples tested positive for EPO, a drug that increases red blood cells and hence oxygen carrying capacity. Here's a babblefish translation of the article (via Drudge).

Lance, of course, again denies the charges:
"I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs."
Outgoing Tour director (and ostensible friend) Jean Marie-LeBlanc piles on:

"I remain cautious and slightly circumspect but this is troubling and I feel disappointment inside me, like many sports lovers must do," Leblanc told French radio station RTL

Asked if he felt let down by Armstrong, Leblanc said. "Yes."

My take? It's more sour grapes. We've seen the French accuse Armstrong for seven years, and there's no reason to expect it won't continue. In the end, there will prove to be nothing in this. As Lance often says, the only thing he was ever "on" was his damn bike. And the French just can't accept that.

But don't believe me, take the Big Mig's word for it:

"They have been out to get [Armstrong] in France for a number of years," Indurain was quoted as saying on the website todociciclismo.com on Tuesday.

And they still are. Sniping at a champion's heels is a very poor substitute for winning (or contending, for that matter) but, in the end, it's all the French have when it comes to the Tour these days.

Tagged: Lance Armstrong