Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Doping destroys the story at the heart of cycling

Sir

Suggesting that the Tour de France should lead the way for other sports by permitting drug enhancement, as your recent Editorial 'A sporting chance' (Nature 448, 512; 2007) does, misses an important point. You fail to recognize the reason why people drive 10 hours to watch the regional final of college basketball, wake up in the middle of the night to watch the inevitable penalty shoot-out at the end of an England World Cup football match or even hop on the fast train to see the yellow jersey lead the Tour de France on to the Champs-Élysées. Genuine fans of sport don't just follow their teams to see sportsmen and sportswomen make great plays; they do so to see stories unfold.

To understand why pharmacological enhancements should never be allowed in cycling, you need to understand that all spectator sports thrive by selling simple stories to their fans. The cycling story is that, with great talent and after years of training, the best riders ride faster than the others at the very limits of natural human endurance. In the Tour de France, this story has been told and retold for 100 years — over stages, tours and careers. It describes the overall winner, the best hill climber and even the failed solo breakaway.

How could cycling's story survive if pharmacological enhancements were allowed? Even if the time comes when botulinum toxin injections are available from vending machines, doping should never be allowed in cycling.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Riley, S. Doping destroys the story at the heart of cycling. Nature 449, 281 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/449281a

Download citation

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing