The Tour de France and the Doping Issue

Abstract : The Tour de France’s economic and symbolic importance has turned it into a distorting mirror of how cycling works, particularly regarding doping and its treatment. There are indeed a lot of good reasons that cause one to find doping in the Tour de France because it is such a hard race that it pushes the sport of cycling – more generally – to extremes. But doping is not just taking products to enhance performance or maintain one’s position. It is also a scandal or a social or health problem once these performance-enhancing practices become subject to rules, when a sport decides to ban certain products out of concern for equity between competitors, or once they become subject to the law when the State considers it must ban the consumption of certain products because they are dangerous to individuals’ health or because it gives a bad image to an activity that should set a good example. The relationship of doping and the Tour de France is not simply one that links a demanding competition and the means employed by riders to face up to that. It is one where a sports event, because of its popularity, is a site where the problem will be aired in public. The Tour de France is the occasion when doping is defined and when the array of measures to deal with it will be set in train. It is therefore where the ability of sports governing bodies and political authorities to deal with it and resolve it will be judged, in dramatic fashion.
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Patrick Mignon. The Tour de France and the Doping Issue . International Journal of the History of Sport, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2003, 20 (2), pp.227-245. ⟨hal-01697488⟩

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