This pinged my radar because I am one of the eight Americans with an interest in professional cycling and who follows the Tour De France. One of the fascinating things about the Tour to me is the contrast between the strong sense of sportsmanly honor among the participants and the fact that it is also the dirtiest sport with respect to doping or juicing or bio-chemical what-have-yous. They have a tradition that if the race leader goes down in an accident or with a mechanical problem, everybody holds up until he's back on track because they want to win based on their cycling skills, not the happenstance of equipment or road conditions or the like. A point point a couple of years back everyone just stopped racing in a stage because an idiot had thrown tacks in the road and a number of people got blow outs, so they all held up and finished together as a group. It's very admirable and truly idealistic, yet there was also a string of well over a decade when every winner got stripped of his victory due to failing blood tests. The cycling subculture has its own concept of sportsmanship that is more extreme than other sports in both the noble and ignoble directions.
The doping issue seems to have been resolved -- seems -- but it's really hard to consider there to be any mitigating circumstances with the latest method of cheating in cycling. It appears some folks have taken to installing hidden motors in their bikes to give them an added boost. When I skimmed the headline I thought it too absurd to be real, but that's exactly what's going on. Evidently it's not a terribly new development and there are firms out there that provide kits to modify your bike in a stealthy manner. You can read the details at Gizmodo.
I would think cyclists would see this as a order of magnitude more ignoble than doping, because it is a mechanical thing. Shouldn't the same sporting instinct that makes you hold up when the leader has an equipment failure also make you ashamed to enhance your equipment for victory. Doping, as illegal as it was, was at least a change to the cyclist's body which is still, well, the cyclist -- not a piece of equipment. But I don't know. Human beings are designed for rationalized hypocrisy at the cellular level; maybe they'll figure out a way to justify it. If they do, it would really make me wonder where the line will be drawn. Maybe at taking a shortcut to the finish line?
It's going to make this year's Tour very interesting. To the eight of us watching, anyway.