The Spectator

What a dope

What a dope
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Oh, Vino. How could you be so stupid?

You fought all the way up from the bottom, making it from Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan to Paris, France on the strength of your legs and an indomitably aggressive spirit. When your team collapsed days before last year's Tour de France when German Jan Ullrich was barred on doping charges, you convinced the Kazakh government to put together a team just for you.

When you fell on one of the first days of this year's Tour, you won the hearts of fans by racing on with more than 30 stitches in your leg and arm. Just finishing this year would have been enough to guarantee a comfortable retirement as the Kazakh Minister of Sport or some such sinecure.

And now -- maybe because the pressure was too much, maybe because the need for a win was just too great, maybe out of sheer idiocy or even arrogance -- you've brought the sport to its lowest point in living memory. You were the last hero riding, and now you're just the latest entry in a too-long list of cheats and liars.

I can't lie -- I'll keep watching. But not for much longer. Worse than the cheating is the denial. If cyclists can't muster the courage to come clean when they're caught, then cycling is never going to get clean. And, likely sooner rather than later, it's all going to be over.

So, Vino -- veritas. Then leave with some dignity and give the sport a chance to reform. If it's not too late already