Perhaps I owe Vincenzo Nibali an apology for suggesting he might be doping. He is, after all, one of only four men to win all three Grand Tours (Spain and Italy, in addition to France). So that's not chopped liver.
"Now that I find myself on the highest step of the Champs-Élysées, it's more beautiful than I ever imagined."
Which is lovely.
When directly asked about doping, he answered: "It's a great pleasure for me to talk to you about all the sacrifices I've made to come this far. I'm proud of what I've accomplished."
Slightly less lovely. A simple no might have sufficed, Vinnie.
Nibali's team, Astana, was first developed to support Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov, who, it should be said, was the genuine bomb. A great rider, an important teammate in the mountains for Armstrong, he was suspended from the '07 Tour for doping. What's interesting about Vinokourov is that he's a member of the school of thought that goes something like: "If literally everybody was doping than I'm not about to apologize for doing it too."
Vino, as he's called, served his suspension without apology and is now the manager of the Astana team.
This has always been the difference between baseball doping and cycling doping. In baseball, lots and lots of players weren't using performance enhancing drugs. So those that were actually were
cheating. In cycling, everybody was doing it. Okay -- not absolutely
everyone. But of the 21 podium slots (1st, 2nd and 3rd times 7) of the Tours that my boy Lance won, only one slot is held by someone who has never been caught doping. Not accused. Caught. So the ethical high ground becomes a bit murkier.
All that said, I'm just enough of a sap to believe that cycling, with it's state-of-the-art biological passport detection technology, has moved past doping to a significant degree.
So let's think positive thoughts. Congratulations Vincenzo. Magnifico
That said, Fausto Coppi remains my favorite Italian cyclist ...
Favorite performance enhancing drug? Espresso!