My fandom is more of a recent addition to the cycling world. Yet I'm truly passionate about catching pretty much any race I can these days. And now the month of July has become a sacred month for me. My TV will be on Versus all month long and likely won't be changed except when there is an Oakland A's game on or Breaking Bad is on. Other than that, it will be wall-to-wall TdF in my household throughout the duration of Le Tour.
And this is in spite of the fact that I pretty much know how the TdF will end before it even starts. How many other sports can you say that about right now? Golf used to be that way with Tiger. Tennis with Roger Federer a year or two ago. But that's about it. No other athlete is in the midst of such a dominant stretch in their respective sport as Alberto Contador is in cycling. The way that he just won the Giro in May was like he was riding on a motorcycle while everyone else was handed a tricycle.
Thing is, it is stealing all the fun away from this July for me. It's not just because of Alberto's greatness. It's because a big part of me wonders if Contador should even be racing in France in July 2011. And for that I can't blame AC and his tainted beef but the CAS, the Spanish Cycling Federation and bureaucracy in general. Look I love to watch a great athlete dominate a sport in his prime. It's part of what makes sports fun in finding someone who is that fantasy giant who can crush all others. But there is such a cloud hanging over Contador that once he picks up yellow in France, and I could theoretically imagine it happening quickly, what I consider to be my favorite month of the year now will suddenly be rendered a non-event. You just know that Bert will have that jersey and no matter what you think about him, there has to be a little part of you that will be wondering if he is somehow getting away with something. You just can't accept greatness for what it is any more, especially because of all the scandal that has come to light in cycling. Granted, cycling does more to embrace testings and protocols more than anyone, including razing poor Mark Cavendish from his slumber the other day.
But the pure joy and enjoyment of the sport won't be there for me simply because a final ruling has yet to be released for AC. It's inexcusable in light of the fact that if cycling wants to be taken seriously, they need to also be timely and expedite crucial verdicts like this one.
Instead, cycling's last spectacle. It's biggest prize will be shrouded with doubt. Stories about Contador's next Tour victory will almost always include phrases, "Despite the cloud of suspicion surrounding Contador," and "Contador won the Tour despite the final verdict not coming down on his potential suspension." And it's not good for the sport. It's not good for Contador. It's not good for the fans.
Any way, like an addict, I'll be there in July waiting for my fix. I know that it's unhealthy. I know that it will ultimately hurt me. But I can't stop myself. Even if the result is already decided and the suspension is undecided. Let the suffering begin.