There has been great public indignation in France since the publication on Saturday of former tennis champion Yannick Noah's column in newpsaper Le Monde. Noah, a well-known French tennis player in the 80s, now turned Reggae singer, wrote on doping in sports and levelled accusations of cheating against Spanish athletes.
"How can one nation dominate the sport to this extent? [...] Today, sport is a bit like Asterix at the Olympic Games: if you don't have the magic potion, it's hard to win. And there, we get the impression that they - just like Obelix - fell into the magic potion. Lucky them," Noah wrote.
"In Spain, the Fuentes affair just fizzled out. Most of the good doctor's clients were spared. [...] But why do we roll out the red carpet for Contador to come back to the Tour after he returned a doping positive (due to a bad piece of meat, of course...)? Let's stop being hypocrites. [...] The best attitude to have is to accept doping. And then everybody would have the magic potion," he added, calling for a legalisation of doping that has attracted plenty of criticism in his home country and abroad.
In the cycling community, Team Type 1 sports director Frédéric Moncassin reacted to Noah's comments, calling them "inadmissible and irresponsible. He has a son that is in top level sports [NBA basketball player Joakim Noah - ed.]. In cycling, we have been fighting doping for a very long time. It's a battle. I am a 150 per cent against legalising doping."
In an interview with 20minutes.fr, Moncassin argued that the prohibition of performance-enhancing substances was mainly done to protect athletes' health. "Doping is illegal because it's not good for athletes' health. To deliver great spectacle is good, but you shouldn't put your health in danger," insisted the former French national team selector, and he also refuted the argument that if doping was made legal, potentially dangerous doping practices would be take place less often.
"It would be the same... All riders would take certain products, but some would try to take something else in order to go faster. Stupid things like Riccò... the solution is right: He got caught, now he's banned for life. End of story."
Moncassin, who in his time as a pro won two stages at the Tour de France, was adamant that even race results would not be very different to what they are today. If doping was legalised, "we'd get about the same results. A champion is a champion. Some won because they cheated, but many won because they are great champions," he said.