Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour De France

Jeremy Whittle

Pub Yellow Jersey Press, 2008

Jeremy Whittle is a widely published cycling journalist, and as the blurb on the back cover says, this is an account of his transition from hard core fan of cycling sport (as epitomised by the greatest sporting event, the Tour de France), to a position of strong scepticism.  The author’s relationship with professional cyclists has been on a personal level and there’s a definite sense of disappointment at the level of duplicity at all levels of the sport, from the UCI’s unwillingnness to deal with widespread doping, to the teams washing their hands of responsibility, to the riders who actually practise the doping. 

There’s a sense also of the PR machine that teams such as US Postal/Discovery set up up to protect the interests of their star riders such as Lance Armstrong.  It seems pretty clear that Whittle believes that institutional doping is at the heart of some teams’ success, and indeed the way that USP/Disco and Armstrong ruled the peleton (and the often rather petty vendettas against riders prepared to speak out against doping) can be intepreted as a support for the prevailing doping practices.  The book is really quite touching as you read about Whittle’s changing relationship with riders such as David Millar, and former riders such as Paul Kimmage.  

An excellent book for the follower of professional cycling.