By Brecht Decaluwé in Toulouse
Columbia team manager Bob Stapleton was shocked by the positive test of Manuel Beltrán on Friday evening, but optimistic about the future of the sport as cycling goes through the process of cleaning up.
"I think we need to be careful not be paint everybody with the same brush. I wouldn't want to see a bunch of other athletes - that have done nothing - get punished. So I think focusing on individual conduct is appropriate here," said Stapleton, who said the increased amount of test lowered the chances of riders' getting away with unacceptable behavior.
"There were about 3,000 tests this year. When you do more testing, you're going catch people. People are being caught, and that is part of the solution. It's painful and it's ugly, but the sport is definitely in transition," said Stapleton. "There's a lot of testing, and if people realize they will get caught and punished, then that has to change behaviour over time."
"We're stuck in the middle right now," he said before commenting on the psychology of the peloton. "We're trying to do all the right things, but there are still some kinds of behaviour that we have to eliminate. With more testing, the odds to being caught are getting higher. Everybody's just shocked. It's almost an addictive behaviour, and you have to view them as addicts, and probably they have to be treated like that as well."
George Hincapie, Columbia's American rider in the Tour de France, said he was surprised to hear that his former US Postal and Discovery Channel team-mate had delivered a positive A-sample for EPO.
"My first reaction was surprise," said Hincapie. "I'm shocked, like everybody. It's obviously really disappointing, but in the mean time it means that the tests are working. There's no room to cheat so at the same time you've got to look at the positive side, at the things that are getting better."