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"I felt this Tour de France was heading back towards the bad old days" | Jeremy Whittle

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

21:17 23 Sep 2020

Guardian journalist Jeremy Whittle joined Off The Ball on Wednesday where he spoke about possible doping in this year's Tour de France.

Nairo Quintana had his room raided by French Police who also searched hotel rooms occupied by his Arkéa-Samsic teammates on the final Wednesday evening of the Tour de France, according to reports in Le Journal du Dimanche and L’Équipe.

None of the details of the raid were made public until after the Tour de France had finished. The Guardian journalist suggested this was part of a trend this year.

Whittle has seen the 'bad years' of cycling's infamous Omerta among riders and says this year's tour felt like a similar atmosphere was returning.

"We had a period where people were very open and transparent and that was post-Armstrong, post that decision against Armstrong by USADA," recalled Whittle.

"You could talk quite openly in press conferences. You could openly challenge people. I thought that was really good, we had a great open discourse.

"It felt like everybody wanted the same thing, which was to leave this behind and move on. It doesn't feel like that anymore.

"I felt this Tour was edging back a little bit, hitting reverse towards the bad old days. I don't mean specifically in terms of doping but in terms of the climate being a bit more 'don't ask any questions.'

Be happy Tour de France happened

Whittle explored this further in a piece with the Guardian.

"It feels like you should just be happy the Tour happened because there's a pandemic going on and you shouldn't say anything [negative]," said Whittle of the attitude to the press.

"Well hang on a minute, I want to ask questions about this. I did ask Primoz Roglic about his credibility after the stage in Grand Colombiers.

"I got quite a lot of heat about that from colleagues in the press room, from some people who used to be team PRs.

"Roglic himself seemed ok with it and then one of his teammates made some comments about it 'lacking respect' as well.

"It's a question you should always be able to ask. It may be that they will always give one answer, that is 'of course you can trust me.'

"At the same time, he's on record saying he can be trusted and I think that is important."

When asked why other journalists would have an issue with Whittle's line of inquiry, the Guardian journalist suggested it may be down to inexperience.

"There are some people in the press room who haven't been in the press room as long as I have."


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