Saving Tour de France

July 27, 2006

The news that the latest Tour de France winner Floyd Landis tested positive puts the Tour de France event into the crisis/reputation management category. Here’s the news story via newsvine.

On first glance it may look to be Floyd Landis’ crisis, but it is deeper than that. First the accusations, apparently proved false, that the legendary Lance Armstrong may have used illegal substances. Then the disqualification before the race of the leading contenders. Now the revelation (yet to be verified by the backup test) that this year’s winner tested positive. It has to add up to the general impression that those riders are playing a game of who can use what and not get caught. Does it matter to the public? Again, saints, sinners and saveables question. The true fan will be disappointed, disheartened and very eager that those in charge get this whole drug thing under control in a hurry before it destroys a sport they love. The ones who could care less or who think it is a silly thing to have a bunch of men in tights riding bikes up those hills when they should be riding Jeeps, well they are simply going to feel fully confirmed in switching past the monotonous OLN coverage. It’s the saveables that matter. The ones who think maybe there is something to all this hoopla. Don’t ride bike myself but gotta admire a guy who can win a race like that. These just might be athletes to respect.

Armstrong did amazing things in the US to bring this sport to the public’s attention. But as much as it took his years of winning to build an audience and respect for the sport, it can take hours, days or weeks for it to disappear. The communication team at the Tour de France office have their work cut out for them.

I’m sure they would like your advice, so here’s the question of the day: What should the Tour de France organization do to restore respect and credibility?

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