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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cycling controversy sends bad message

No sooner than the Barry Bonds doping storm seems to have dissipated, a fresh pall centering on performance enhancing stimulants is lingering this time over the cycling industry's prestigious Tour de France.

American cyclist Floyd Landis' euphoric Tour de France victory is now in question after he failed a drug test taken in between race segments. Landis' sample tested positive for high levels of testosterone.

Landis hopes that a follow-up test of a backup sample will clear his name and preserve his win.

No doubt, stripping Landis of his win would be a black-letter day for the sport, which also saw nine other cyclists disqualified prior to the race because of doping violations.

The upside, if there is one, is that these disqualifications and the ensuing controversy were the results of the cycling industry's aggressive commitment to cleaning up the sport. Testing requirements are more rigorous, and cyclists also are tested between stages of the international competition.

Other sports, such as baseball, test infrequently at best, relying more on the media and sports writers to lift the shade hiding the use of illegal performance enhancers.

The controversy over Landis' win and America's attempt to retain the Tour de France title is disheartening.

But even more discouraging is the message yet another doping scandal sends young athletes who hope to one day achieve that level of greatness.

Isn't it time the sports industry and our star athletes do everything possible to get that message right?