Tour de FranceWhat a pleasure to watch the finish of this magnificent sporting event this year! Unique in the nature of the grind it imposes on its participants, and in the complexity of the economics of success (there are many different goals one can pursue, there is subtle team play, there are trade-offs that can be fascinating), it is one of the great spectacles in sport, especially with the climax of finishing with repeated laps around the Arc de Triomphe and la Place de la Concorde.
And this year we saw the culmination of one of the great sporting careers with Lance Armstrong winning an unprecedented seventh straight title. We saw Jan Ullrich, surely one of the unluckiest great sportsmen ever to compete, finishing third this time; someone who might well have had a record like Armstrongs, if only Armstrong had not been around! Great drama, and a delight to watch them acknowledging one another, and to know the closeness of the second-place finisher Ivan Basso and Armstrong, because of the cancer illness of Basso's mother (Armstrong having mixed himself in trying to help).
Curious editorial policies struck the Globe and Mail Saturday. Reporter Michael Grange writes an article that is churlish at best. You get a quick feel from the start:
Barring accident, illness or sudden death, Lance Armstrong will cruise the Champs-Elysées in Paris and cross the finish line as the champion of the Tour de France for the seventh time -- a stretch of dominance that will likely never be equalled or extended, as Armstrong swears this is his last race."or sudden death"? Wow.
Where does this go?
It goes through a meandering series of claims about possible drug use and the evidence for it (largely based on the efforts of one British sportswriter, with no original news from Grange). Grange seems rather upset as well about Armstrong's divorce, and particularly peeved that he has taken up with Sheryl Crow, viz:
His highly publicized divorce from Kristen Armstrong, 14 months after she gave birth to their twin daughters and nearly concurrent with the start of his very public romance with singer Sheryl Crow, doubtless lost him some fans.Now Grange never manages to say flatly that he thinks Armstrong is a doper, and discusses at length the legal hazard of getting yourself into that position, but he finishes with quite a flourish, quoting the British sportswriter again:
"Even when you have a doping culture you will always have people who play by the rules because they have respect for the rules. They're the guys who need our help, who deserve it."Well, I leave it to the reader of the column to deicde whether that is meant to suggest that Lance Armstrong beat Basso and Ullrich because he took drugs and they did not.
At the moment I subject myself to The Globe and Mail only once a week, largely for the TV Guide, but my last two posts are documenting reasons zero might be the right number of times. I would not mind a column that took seriously addressing doping charges, but this evasion is not something I need to pay to read.