The Tour De France has been around for 111 years. In the history of the race, there have been significant cheaters that may or may not have crossed the finish line. Let’s look back at the first and last of these cheaters.
One would think that participants racing for such an extent amount on time in various ground layouts would want to stay on par with the rest of the riders. However, since the first race there have been racers looking to gain an unfair advantage. Pacing or maintaining a steady speed throughout the race is forbidden as the race is a test of endurance and strength. However, that didn’t stop Jean Fisher from attempting to do just that. He was found to be “..pacing behind a car.”(1) The source goes on to indicate that no record was found to dictate a penalty. The race was ultimately won by Maurice Garin.
I had planned on jumping a few years in order to capture block of time but in researching the years, I keep being prompted to review the 1904 Tour De France that was almost the last tour due to rampant and out of control cheating, bribery, gang beating and acceptance of food and drink by corrupt officials. It was found that the 1903 Champion Maurice Garin “..caught a train mid-race and took illegal feeds from race officials.”(1) These types of cheats and publicity that they caused has caused such uproars that the creator vowed to never have another tour. According to the same source the top four winners were disqualified due to cheating.
The story would not be complete without adding one of the most famous cheats of all time in the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong. He had created such an empire and status of wealth from his participation and successive wins that many believed him to be untouchable. The length of his success had aided him in building other empires especially after having survived testicular cancer. To the date of this article, he is still working with lawyers, judges and hearing to determine the depth of the “doping scandal.” Many believe that even today, his decision is selfish and only serves his own purposes. “Armstrong’s camp told USA TODAY Sports in January that the confession was part of a comeback and atonement plan that might take several years.”(2)
Perhaps if penalties were placed from the first race and stiff enough to deter future racers, the race would have maintained a shiny image rather than face tarnished images of races and years gone badly.
1903 Fisher Pacing
USA Today – Armstrong Plans