The controversy surrounding Floyd Landis’s
positive drug tests is a good example of what passes for sport these days. Two
weeks after it finished, this year’s Tour de France has almost nothing to do
with cycling. It’s now about labs, lawyers, appeals, and the shame cycling is
facing as its marquee event again tries to mend its punctured reputation.
You’ll remember that’s also how the Tour
started this year, with the favourites being banned en masse for their
involvement in a Spanish drug case that just this week threatened to leap into
Redemption may come for Landis, but he will
be remembered as the first winner of the Tour de France to lose the title after
returning a positive drug test. Along with athletics, the sport of cycling is
now synonymous with drugs, some doomsayers going so far as to suggest it may
never recover from the scale and depth of the problem it now faces.
Shane Warne’s infidelities also made
headlines last week, with Paul Barry’s biography promising to feed our tabloid
desire for a thorough examination of his s-x life. Great bowling just isn’t
enough these days.
Another off-field incident that captivated
the sports media last week was the scuffle between two Collingwood players and
members of the public at a Port Melbourne nightclub. Again, this incident was Really
Big News and on Saturday night was used by Channel Ten as a key ingredient in
its pre-match commentary.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire got a
little excited at all the attention his club was getting and did his part to
keep the Pies in the sports pages by suggesting the club’s culture was “rat
infested” when he
assumed the presidency six years ago. The following intra-club bitch-fest
between McGuire and his target Tony Shaw continues to play itself out across
all forms of media.
While news of Warnie’s infidelities and the
Landis affair and the Collingwood nightclub brawl keeps us reading the back
page, at least we still have an actual game every now and then to give it all a
bit of context.