Troubles Mount for Tour de France
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Unidentified Man: (French spoken)
(SOUNDBITE OF FRENCH TV NEWS)
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: While not actually caught by a drug test, Rasmussen had been under heavy suspicion for failing to report his whereabouts to drug authorities during pre- Tour training. In the middle of the night, his team held a press conference to explain why Rasmussen had been fired in the end.
NICO VERHOEVEN: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: Cycling officials were clearly reeling from the pace of the dismissals. Jean- Francois Lamour, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, took to the airwaves to defend the tour.
JEAN: (Through Translator): There are cyclists who do their job and train in transparency, and we have to have to have confidence in them. But I can't hide my worry that there will be others who will try to kill this wonderful sport.
BEARDSLEY: But cycling writer Barnaby Chesterman says this year's race is no different from any other. Performance-enhancing drugs have been a well-known secret for 30 years, he says. It's just that race organizers are finally waking up to it.
BARNABY CHESTERMAN: Unidentified Man: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: Up until Rasmussen's dismissal, race organizers stood by their claim that the expulsions proved to their heightened checks and drug tests were working. Tour Director Christian Prudhomme issued a warning yesterday to those still in the race.
CHRISTIAN PRUDHOMME: (Through translator) I would like to say to those who haven't quite understood that they are playing Russian roulette, and they'd better get that through their head.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
MONTAGNE: You can follow the Tour route through an interactive map and read more about the top contenders going to npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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