Hours before the Tour de France ?07 presentation, leading French sports daily L?Equipe has demanded there should be no actual ?winner? of the scandal-ridden 2006 race.
L?Equipe?s argument is that if Floyd Landis is not cleared of his positive for testosterone, then Spaniard Oscar Pereiro, who finished second, should not step up one spot on the podium.
In a leading article on Wednesday, L?Equipe – the Tour?s semi-official newspaper – states that a ?simple white line in the palmares of the Grand Boucle [Tour de France] would have a powerful symbolic impact in these dark times for cycling. That way we would never forget what happened in July 2006.?
The idea – which goes against standard practice in the case of positive dope tests – has already provoked strong reactions both for and against.Pereiro and his team are bitterly opposed to the idea: the Spaniard has threatened ?never to return to the Tour – what?s the point if they don?t respect the law??
At the same time, his team manager Jose Miguel Echavarri has already threatened to take the Tour to court should they put this idea into practice. The UCI have also said they do not agree with L?Equipe, with ProTour manager Alain Rumpf saying ?Pereiro should not become a victim.?
But two-times Tour winner Laurent Fignon disagreed, saying ?Pereiro didn?t win the race on the terrain itself. And if there?s a gap in the race?s palmares, tough!?
L?Equipe?s calls coincided with reports in the Spanish press on Wednesday that the laboratory which discovered Landis positive for testosterone already had a positive ?A? test for the American before the final stage of the Tour. According to El Pais newspaper, evidence partly revealed in Floyd Landis defence published recently on Internet shows that the Paris laboratory responsible had confirmation of the presence of testosterone in the ?A? urine sample an hour before Sunday?s stage began.
These two latest developments threaten to cast a long shadow over the Tour 2007 presentation, due to take place on Thursday in Paris.
Apart from the London start and first stage through S.E. England, the Tour will almost certainly have a first mainland European stage from Dunkirk to Ghent. After stages in the Vosges and Alps, a repetition of the 1967 stage over the Ventoux, 40 years after the death of Tommy Simpson, has not been ruled out, either. A final time trial is said to be possible in the region of Clermont-Ferrand.