Or as I might have titled this: Who's Next to Break my Heart?
When I read a while ago, that Ivan Basso had been signed to Discovery, my heart sank. He had been hugely implicated in Operacion Puerto, he had withdrawn (or been withdrawn) from the 2006 Tour de France, the new drug-free European teams wouldn't touch him and yet, yet, Lance Armstrong's team took him on. This week we here he's "resigned" and will take no further part in the ProTour. What stronger admission do we need? What is happening between the Spanish police and other bodies is not known to me in any detail, but the revelation that Basso may be required to give DNA suggests that the investigation has taken a further turn. His decision to "retire" from competition this year can only lead me to a negative conclusion.
Proof must be decisive and open before any condemnation is made, but as with Jan Ullrich's decision earlier this year to retire from the sport, it does not make for happy reading. If these riders are innocent of the accusations made against them, why would they turn away from the sport they have both loved and earned their livings from?
I have always seen the best in road and track cycling, but in these last years, so many times my heroes have been found wanting. Marco Pantani, the Elephant, was one of my great favourites. I followed his exploits with awe and admiration. When questions were raised, I was at the forefront of his defenders. I couldn't believe he would cheat. But he did, and paid the greatest price - his life. Going back in the history of cycling, others have paid the same price. Tom Simpson was one of the first that we absolutely know gave his life for his wrongly judged quest for success.
And this brings me back to my heartbreak in a sport that I still love. Lance Armstrong signed Ivan Basso. Basso appears to be a drug cheat - though that is still to be proved in the courts of law, if not in the courts of the media. Lance was, and is a cycling hero. He did what no-one has done before - he won the Tour 7 times. Allegations of doping have been an integral part of Lance's career (mostly led by L'Equipe), but there has never been any proof against him and I always believed him to be clean. Sadly, his support of the tainted Basso has caused me to question his ethics, if not his career, and that, for me, is the ultimate betrayal.