Tour like a mobile pharmacy

A French newspaper report has revealed evidence of a culture of medical dependency in the Tour de Fr

A French newspaper report has revealed evidence of a culture of medical dependency in the Tour de Fr
French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) has eased open the door of the Tour de France medicine cabinet to lay bare what it claims is an unnerving culture of medical dependency in the pro peloton. A special report today reveals that, on average, 11 foreign teams present at the Tour requested permission to travel to the race equipped with more than 80 different products. As was the case in 2003, four teams failed to submit a request to import medicines to the French Agency of Sanitary Safety of Health Products (AFSSAP) before arriving on French soil. These teams are theoretically breaking the law by their mere presence at the Grande Boucle. Only in the unlikely event of a drop-in from French customs officers, though, do they risk sanctions, since the AFSSAP has no powers of coercion or punishment. Reassuringly, none of the products declared to the AFSSAP is categorically banned at the Tour. Less comforting is the news that, in addition to familiar household medicines like paracetamol, antihistamine and vitamins, the AFSSAP received and approved requests for 'heavy' products whose conventional application is difficult to reconcile with the needs of an endurance athlete. Fructose diphosphate, a treatment for respiratory disorders, various diuretics, coronary dilators and products for the detoxification of the liver belong firmly in the latter category. One team's Tour de France survival kit reportedly contains 155 products. For the sake of comparison, the JDD recalls that US Postal had 126 (authorised) products on board in the 2000 Tour. Another 2004 Tour entrant, perhaps the claimant of the 155 benchmark, has a supply of pentoxifylline tablets. These are more commonly prescribed for amnesia in the elderly. "I look after sportsmen of under 30 years of age who don't need reassurances about the state of their memory, not even to remember what the stage route is like," commented a sceptical doctor, Grard Guillaume. "The cyclist's pathology is hypochondria: falls, skin irritations, digestive, pulmonary or muscular complaints. That necessitates around 30 products, no more. You can add to that a couple of medicines in case of an emergency, like a heart attack, but no more. Nothing justifies such an arsenal of products." "The size of the 'cargoes' shows that the culture of medicine is a recurring reality in cycling," Jean-Pierre de Mondenard, a sports doctor and the author of a dictionary of doping, told the JDD. "This culture is a tributary of a doping system." Mondenard went on to controversially suggest that "you would see a similar array of products in the French football team."
This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
  • Discipline: Road, Mountain, Urban, Womens
  • Location: UK, USA, Australia
Back to top