Doping Athletes

Floyd Landis tests positive.

According to news reports, Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone after the 17th stage of the race. The American cyclist’s performance got a boost during that Alpine stage, shooting him from 11th place to third place.

In 2004, Bill Gifford gave the dope on doping—which athletes take performance-enhancing drugs, why they do it, and who gets hurt. “For all its imperfections, drug testing has created and enforced something like the rule of law in cycling,” Gifford writes. “Cheating hasn’t gone away, and probably never will, but it’s clear what the rules are, and there is at least a possibility of getting caught.”

But can cyclists win sans dope? Andrew Tilin, who braved the hulking L’Alpe d’Huez before this year’s Tour, thinks not: “I’m convinced that guys like Lance Armstrong, Andy Hampsten, and Marco Pantani blazed up this thing courtesy of some godforsaken, nuclear-powered cocktail.”