Excited organisers of France’s annual cycling-and-pretending-not-to-take-drugs lottery have announced that 2013's draw will be ‘a rollover’. With Lance Armstrong personally injecting an extra $7.5 million into the prize pool, cyclists are hurriedly dialling the six numbers of their favourite pharmacologists.
“You have to be ‘in it to win it’”, exclaimed Xavier LeFevre, head of the Tour de France’s governing body. “But there's lots of things you can do to improve your chances, such taking a ‘lucky dip’, using a swab from a corrupt testing official.”
Although only 3 winners have managed to hold on to a prize since 1996, LeFevre insists that you don’t have to first cross a line before you can cross the line first. “The fact that we haven't caught a handful of cyclists cheating completely vindicates us", said LeFevre, “it’s easy to criticise the cycling lottery but we’d prefer it if you didn’t. A great deal of the competitors are completely dependent on us, and our unique ‘Lotto drugs’ sponsorship deals."
LeFevre pointed out that team work can greatly improve the chances of winning, especially if a syndicate agrees to keep their mouths shut. “There’s all sorts of systems and superstitions that entrants like to keep to themselves”, he explained. “For instance, some like to have all their blood swapped with ‘someone lucky’ just before they visit a testing facility.”
One unique aspect of the Tour lottery is that not winning straight away isn’t necessarily a barrier to victory. “While there can only be one winner, 3 out of the last 16 winners have gone on to lose”, explained LeFevre. “With advances in detection methods eliminating more and more entrants from each year, even someone who's come last could one day find out that they won.”
Taking masses of experimental drugs has been described by critics as a ‘health lottery’, but LeFevre doesn’t think it’s harmful if no-one finds out. As he insisted, “There's no evidence that injecting drugs is harmful, if you don't go looking for any. I've heard people suggest EPO caused Armstrong's testicular problems, but that saddle would have given anyone thunderballs.”