Saturday, July 18, 1998 Published at 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Pedalling drugs through Tour history
Tommy Simpson: Winning became too much
The world's media has descended on the Tour de France to witness what appears to be another major drugs scandal emerging at the very highest levels of sport.
But while the Festina team, banned on Friday night from competition, try to make sense of their future, there is a little memorial on a mountain top which points the to fact that drugs are not new to professional cycling.
Delirious from exhaustion, he was helped from his bike and never regained consciousness.
The death shocked the cycling world - not just for the tragedy of the loss of a young and gifted athlete - but for what was discovered soon afterwards.
In the wake of Tommy Simpson's death, the sport's governing body, the International Union of Cycling, began banning performance enhancing substances.
But for many professionals, drugs are still a vital part of the sport.
Eleven years after the tragedy, Belgium's Michel Pollentier was thrown out for a crude attempt to fix a doping test with the help of a rubber tube and a bulb of urine.
A decade later, the Tour de France faced one of its toughest periods when Spain's Pedro Delgardo twice failed a doping test in 1988's competition.
He went on to win the Tour because the drug, Probenicid, was not then banned.
Its purpose is to mask the chemical trace of other drugs.
The treatment of Delgardo caused uproar among fellow riders who ignored the starter's flag at the 20th stage in protest at how the tests had been conducted.
The then French sports minister, current prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in turn boycotted the climax of the event, accusing the sport of "straying from considerations of health and morals".
Perhaps the public who cheer riders on as they battle up mountain passes at 20mph should not be surprised when evidence of drugs is uncovered.
Within the sport itself, the subject, until this week, had been a relatively closed book.
The pack of riders - the peloton - has been accused of operating a mafia-like culture of secrecy and silence.
Just two week's before the start of that year's Tour, he alleged that the sport was "infested with the abuse of drugs", including mid-race injections for that extra boost before the final sprint.
"I just couldn't handle the pressure," he said, explaining his own fall into the use of drugs.
"There was the unbearable pressure of a corrupt system that actually encourages drug abuse."
The ICU's drugs policy has been frequently criticised as confused or too lax.
In 1994 it took a heavy blow when the legendary Miguel Indurain became involved in a row over how tests are conducted.
He tested positive for Salbutamol. It is used in medicines that aid breathing - Indurain is an asthmatic.
Chris Boardman, who crashed out of this year's Tour after holding the Yellow Jersey, said he understood the temptations.
"This is not the sport's governing body coming in, it is the law coming in and it is happening in the largest cycling team in the world."
Boardman said that there is immense pressure on cyclists at the top of the profession.
He said he had not personally seen drugs been used because he had "made his own decision" to avoid it.
But he added: "I can certainly understand it. For a lot of people it is a question of what is the reality of their situation.
"Cycling is a very working class sport and for some people there is a choice between maybe working in the factory or earning hundreds of thousands cycling.
"In some ways I'm happy to be back home."