After 14 months of allegations, denials, court rulings, and strange developments, we at long last have an official winner of the 2006 Tour de France. The Yellow Jersey was delivered to Spaniard Oscar Pereiro today, officially moving him from second on the list to first, following the recent court ruling against Floyd Landis.
You would think that today’s move would cap the whole affair, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Landis is still appealing the decision. He intends to send his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which is the highest court to which these kinds of cases can be sent. They’ll hear the case in mid-February. What if they should find in Landis’ favor? Stranger things have happened, and with the way this case has gone, I wouldn’t put it past the Court to decide that there was some odd, behind the scenes activity, that could cast the whole affair in doubt.
But today is about Oscar Pereiro, who I’m sure is experiencing some very bittersweet emotions. While he has clearly received the greatest honor of his professional career, he didn’t don the Yellow Jersey along the Champs-Elysees like every other Tour champion before him. The specter of Floyd Landis will always hang over his win, and he’s been completely robbed of his moment in the spotlight. In fact, today’s story will largely go unnoticed by the general public, and few will ever know that Pereiro had a great tour in 2006. While the Jersey will go in the trophy closet, I’m sure this isn’t the way he imagined winning it.
The sport of cycling still has a very long way to go.
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