saternow, lynn 2010

Lynn Saternow

By Lynn Saternow

Herald Sports Editor

OK, somewhere a long the line I must have missed the memo. You know the one I’m talking about.

The memo that says it’s OK to cheat in any sport.

The latest news is that Tour de France champion Floyd Landis cheated to win the cycling event. The International Cycling Union on Saturday said that his “B” sample confirmed the original findings that he had high levels of testosterone in his system.

The most damning report is that his urine showed traces of synthetic testosterone which wasn’t produced naturally.

Landis said he will fight to keep his Tour de France title. Thus far he has used just about every excuse in the book, from taking cortisone shots to drinking beer to thyroid medicine to his body producing the high level of male hormone. What next?

“It must have happened when I shook hands with Barry Bonds!”

Landis, who was supposed to carry the torch for America in cycling after 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong retired, is now a disgrace. He was already fired by his Phonak team, which is a pretty good indication that they feel he cheated.

Those of us who have little knowledge of cycling — or even care — wondered about his victory. After leading the race he had a horrible day and dropped back to 11th place. The stories said he now had no chance to win. Then suddenly on the 17th stage he surges to the top again.

Americans love to cheat. People cheat on their income tax; people cheat on their spouses; people cheat at golf. Why? Because we see it all over the sports world and our young people think that it’s the way it should be. It isn’t cheating if you don’t get caught. Of course, the fact that taking steroids might mean you die 30 years before your time should be some deterrent in that area.

But the biggest question isn’t whether he cheated. It’s: Why does America even care about the Tour de France?

Cycling is not exactly a popular sport. Until Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France a few times, nobody knew it existed. Then of course Americans — led by the media — jumped on the bandwagon.

“Hey look at us, our guy’s winning the Tour de France.”

Before you know it, the media was declaring Armstrong as “Male Athlete of the Year.” Give me a break!

You mean to tell me that Lance Armstrong is a better athlete than LeBron James or Hines Ward or even Barry Bonds? The guy rides a bike for goodness sake. Maybe we could name a bowler or golfer or jockey or auto driver next.

We shouldn’t be shocked that Landis apparently cheated. Cycling is one of the dirtiest sports when it comes to doping. The problem is: Other sports are starting to get the same way.

When I was a kid, my dad always harped on me: Cheaters never win! Winners never cheat!

Unfortunately, dad, sometimes they do!

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