So, were all our heroes cheats?

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New Member
For this 72-year-old, there is an added sadness to the Tour fiasco. Were all the heroes of my adolescence and early adulthood cheats? Coppi, Bobet, Anquetil, and most dismaying of all, Merckx?

I've read in various books about cycling that Coppi used the needle and that Anquetil steadfastly refused any form of testing.

Maybe I should stick to proper heroes like Ray Booty - definitely the greatest role model any young cyclist could have, then and now.


Unfortunately I think you're right. Anquetil was particularly noted for amphetemine abuse. After he'd finished racing he once 'admitted' that he and another team mate rode a time trial clean to see what it was like. They both agreed it was hell and wouldn't do it again.

Merckx too dodged tests and was reprimanded (though not suspended for it). The consolation I take from what they were doing is that they took drugs that predominantly altered their mental state - ie. helped them believe that they could make the last mountain pass of the day rather than drugs that completely altrered their physical make up.


New Member
Deal, Kent
the heros of the past are now remembered for the cycling not the details.
enhansing performance has been going on even in the first olmypics back in Greece.
In time we will remember current cycling heros and skip the mear details they not only risked their life on the road but also in the toilet or Dr's room as well.
Someone had briefed Evan Davis (BBC economics correspondent, not sports, I'm guessing he's not a cycling fan) about this when he interviewed Pat McQuaid this morning.

He asked if doping hadn't always been endemic in cycling.
The Coppi quote 'do you ever drug ?' 'yes, only when necessary' 'when is that ?' 'all the time'

McQuaid more or less said it had long been a problem in cycling, as in other sports.


Legendary Member
fuzzy29 said:
Nope, I think you've covered all of the clean ones.:thumbsup:

How can you be sure they were clean? [ I am not suggesting they weren't as I have no knowledge.]

All we can be sure of is that they were not caught


New Member
Bury, Lancashire
Yep - tests probably weren't as good then as they are now and I don't think they had as many out of competition tests. Some stuff thta's now banned, wasn't a few years ago of course, which muddies the waters.


I think in most professional sports the simple fact is ,to compete at these levels they need any help that can improve performance,sadly some decide to go down the route of banned substances,there are even ways of masking ,so hiding banned substances from the tests,so the test result shows negative,but i think they are catching up with that sort of thing all the time.

Smokin Joe

Legendary Member
Depends what you mean by cheating. Prior to 1998 doping was the norm, and had been since the sport began and inhuman distances were commonplace in cycle races. People who doped were breaking the rules, but they were not cheating anyone. Everyone was at it, so all the likes of simpson did was to ensure they were playing on a level field.

In '98 the lid came off, and the reputation of the sport was badly damaged. The extent of doping became known and the public would not accept what they saw. The UCI tried to clean it up, but instead of complying the riders just became cleverer at fooling the testers. The crime then became more serious, because they knew what they were doing would hurt the sport badly, and that the products they were using was putting their lives at risk.

After Puerto and the massive headlines last years tour generated, doping became seriously bad news, putting the future of professional cycling in serious danger. Those who still carried on after that, in the face of attempts by not only the UCI but their peers were not only cheats, but out and out crooks. They were no longer merely being one of the boys, but were knowingly and cynically cheating their fellow riders and the fans of the sport.

So whether your heros were cheats or not depends in which era they rode. Remember that most of the footballers who won the World Cup for England would be classed as violent thugs if they played the same way in todays game. The rules change with time.

Keith Oates

Penarth, Wales
"Remember that most of the footballers who won the World Cup for England would be classed as violent thugs if they played the same way in todays game."

In those days it was men playing a mans game, today I don't know what they are playing at, they fall over and feign injury if they feel the draft of another player as he runs past them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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