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"TURMOIL" AND "NEAR-TOTAL CHAOS" MAR THE TOUR DE FRANCE
Published July 30, 1998
The Tour de France "fell into near-total chaos" yesterday as riders stopped on-course for the second time "in protest of police investigations into spiraling drug scandals on several teams," according to Anne Swardson of the WASHINGTON POST. Bjarne Riis, the '96 Tour champion and an "unofficial" spokesperson for the riders' protest said, "if the police leave us alone, we depart (Thursday). If not, we all go home" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/30). The riders, who stopped racing yesterday for 15 minutes early in the race and "cruised slowly through more than three-quarters of the leg," finished with "hands joined and held aloft in symbolic victory" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 7/30). In N.Y., Samuel Abt reports that the "turmoil" may force the Tour to a "premature end" for the first time in its 95-year history. Abt: "The Tour has never unraveled to this extent, and the developments represent the biggest threat to the race's continuation since the second edition in 1904," when some riders cheated by taking a train (N.Y. TIMES, 7/30). FESTINA NOT FORLORN: Following a drug scandal that led to the removal of the Festina cycling team from the event, Festina USA will run a special explanatory commercial during race coverage on both ABC and ESPN. Festina USA President Renny Swift said the new spot makes it "clear that we feel strongly about continuing our support of cycling and that we abhor the use of performance-enhancing drugs in connection with the sport." Festina USA is a unit of watch maker Festina S.A. in Spain (N.Y. TIMES, 7/30).