The only thing that Bradley Wiggins injected into cycling is integrity.
The 32-year-old British racer clinched the 2012 Tour de France on Sunday. His triumph in the face of countless blood-doping questions will help dissipate those types of question marks from surfacing in the future.
Wiggins has never failed a drug test, but his rise to the top of the Tour de France standings triggered the emergence of many skeptics. His critics believe that he’s doping. But could it not be that Wiggins claimed the Tour de France crown as a result of hard work?
Justin Davis of the AFP reported that FDJ team manager Marc Madiot once said that Wiggins isn’t focused on the fame that comes with victory, but the victory itself: “I remember him wearing these tatty old trainers and an old England top, and I thought to myself, ‘This kid is hungry for success.’”
But for the conspiracy theorists out there, sure, it’s definitely possible that Wiggins’ rise is a consequence of doping. Because stricter testing forced regularly doping cyclists away from their practices, the ever-clean Wiggins was finally given a level playing field—and shined on it.
According to the Associated Press, Wiggins addressed this phenomenon noting the change in the Tour de France. He said (via ESPN):
"If people want to see those incredible 220-kilometer lone breaks in the mountains, maybe it's not realistic anymore. ...As wonderful and as magical as they were to watch, I remember watching as a kid in the 90s, Virenque and stuff, you know, but maybe the sport's changed now. I think the Tour is a lot more human now with everything the UCI is doing."
The more that clean cyclists like Wiggins win the Tour de France, the less yellow jersey holders will have to be bombarded with nonsensical, baseless questions about blood doping. In a couple of years, there’s a strong chance that not a single reporter will feel the need to address the topic.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.