What a poor article. To imply that the desire for drug-free sport is something American and the acceptance of drugs in sport as something European is just ridiculous.
I found the following passage particularly noxious ...
"My own Henry James moment came while covering the Tour for the first time, in 1987. After an early stage a strapping Italian sprinter turned up positive at doping control. Claude the press chief, his mouth framed by mustache and ascot, explained that the rider had been fined several hundred Swiss francs. He would go into the books as finishing last for that day's stage. And he would be subject to a ban if he were to test positive again.
Surely that wasn't the end of it, I thought. A rider had been caught doping in the Tour de Friggin' France ... and he would start the next morning? Over time my astonishment would gradually yield to something else: a sense of being unsophisticatedly and irredeemably American."
Geez dude, what about the fact that until only a few years ago the "punishment" for a first offender in baseball was counselling?! For years the people that ran the league, journalists and (to a lesser extent) the general public all turned blind eyes. Even now, though baseball has made some effort to clean up its act, the penalty for Manny Ramirez's positive test recently was just 50 games (less than one-third of the regular season).
And what about American Football, where players get warned in advance that they will be tested? Shawne Merriman tested positive in 2006 and was given a four game ban (equating to quarter of the regular season). He then got voted into the Pro-Bowl team (the all-star game) later than season!
So please, spare us the patriotic melodrama about the differences between Americans (and their sense of fair play) and Europeans (and their acceptance of human frailty). Total bull****.