Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

9 July 1998 Edition

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Sportsview: Tour De drugs

The Tour De France, the biggest sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympics, comes to Ireland this weekend. Admittedly I know shag all about the sport, bar Stephen Roche won it some years ago, and find it as interesting as tennis - and that's not very interesting. While accepting it was Stephen Roche and Seán Kelly who originally pushed for the event, the role of the 26-County government has been called into question by an investigation by the Sunday Tribune. An intriguing article in the paper shed some light on some facts surrounding the sport. Firstly, a lot of people, particularly traders, feel the £8 million in public money being spent on the event will not reap the dividends promised by the 26-County government.

The Tribune's Paul Howard tells us to ``not to believe the hype'' and points out some very interesting facts the polticians failed to highlight when trying to get the Tour to Ireland. A small number of people will make money out of the event and an even smaller number of clientelest Leinster House politicians who have been promoting the event will have the race passing through their constituencies, therefore making political capital out of it.

Nothing new about Leinster House politicians pursuing a project for their own political gain, but it is the other facts about the Tour and the sport in general that are disturbing. Howard states that an estimated 80% of the world's top cyclists are involved in doping; drugs are almost certain to be smuggled into the country for the event (two years ago some $4 million worth of the drug erthropoietin was estimated to be brought into the Swiss town of Lugano for the World championships). Will the Gardaí do anything about it, or will they stand back, afraid to embarrass the politicians basking in the glory of it all?

The government is obviously aiding and abetting this activity. Up to £20 million in tourist revenue is the price the government has accepted for putting forward the Tour as a clean and wholesome sporting event.

``Drug-taking still pervades professional cycling like a cancer. It is to our shame that we have made public money available to promote it,'' states Howard. He concludes his article by saying: ``Real sports fans will draw the curtains when the peleton passes by.''

Old Firm heads Liffeyside

Celtic, still managerless up to Wednesday, drew the League of Ireland Champions St Pat's in the first Qualifying Round of the Champions League. While a huge financial bonanza to the Dublin club, with a team that will pack out any venue, wherever they may decide to play the game. Lansdowne Road seems the likely venue, as the game will attract huge interest. While Celtic obviously will be more than at home in the capital, the same cannot be said of their Glasgow neighbours, Rangers, who drew Shelbourne. We will all be cheering on the Shels! The last time Rangers came to Dublin to play Bohemians in the UEFA Cup the Northside suburbs around Phibsboro turned into a battle ground as loyalists from Glasgow and the Six Counties ran riot (Bohs won the first leg of the tie 3-2, by the way). Irish League Cliftonville missed out on a financial windfall on their European Champions League debut by drawing Slovakians Kosice


All-Ireland champions Kerry made it through their first hurdle in their attempt to regain the title. A three point win over arch rivals Cork was the outcome of a match that showed Kerry's forwards as the difference. The Kery lads outscored Cork by five points to two in the closing stages of the game. Kerry should have little difficulty in overcoming Tipperary in the Munster Final.

Kilkenny are back in the all-Ireland hurling semi-finals. That man DJ Carey sealed the game for Kilkenny, scoring two 20-metre goals in the Offaly net in the space of eight minutes at Croke Park last Sunday. Offaly, however, still go through to the all-Ireland quarter-finals.


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