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Competition is a part of human nature. It has contributed substantially to evolution and survival, often revealed as an unconditional inclination to dominance. Although success in competition should be achieved by intensive training and uncompromising mental attitude, the celebrity and economic benefits accrued from success in competitive sports have often persuaded athletes to use alternative, occasionally unfair and dangerous, ways of enhancing their performances. There is a long history of fraud in sporting competitions, originating from early times. However, revolutionary advances in biology and biochemistry have profoundly distorted the situation, providing unscrupulous athletes with sophisticated performance-enhancing substances and techniques.1 From the evidence of the widespread use of illicit and potentially harmful methods, several sports federations, in conjunction with the medical community, have adopted increasingly complicated and comprehensive systems of control to overcome the serious problem of doping in sport.
Despite the full commitment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Cycling Union (ICU), there is evidence that athletes are testing positive at antidoping controls on a regular basis. The saga of the 2006 Tour de France is disappointing. Cycling fans have always thought that the greatest cycling competition in the world, next in terms of audience and media involvement to the Olympics and the football Word Cup, was an endurance race in which cycling performance and racing ability would have been the main requisites for wearing the yellow jersey in Paris. However, recent developments have profoundly altered this scenario, transforming the Tour into an elimination race. Just 24 h ahead of the prologue start in Strasbourg, nine riders from five teams were ruled out of the race, suspected of doping by an international probe based on blood transfusions involving more than 200 athletes from different sporting …
Competing interests: None.