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Cycling Books On Tour De France Doping Culture

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Top Cycling Books That Showcase The Sport's Doping Culture

The Tour De France exudes joy, elation and the ultimate in sporting endurance. However sadly the sport has a dark past which has often been dragged up and led to it being chastised in the media.

This article showcases some of the amazing investigative journalism books and autobiographies on cycling and the Tour De France which give valuable insights into the doping culture. From the 1998 Festina Scandal from behind the eyes of Willy Voet, to Tyler Hamilton's involvement in Lance Armstrong's US Postal Team there's a cycling book here to provide a deep education into the punishing demands of the sport at it's highest level.

There have been allegations of doping in the Tour De France since it's inception in 1903 when alcohol and ether were used as recovery strategies for getting through the arduous nature of the race itself although the first doping tests only began in Bordeaux in 1966 with Raymond Poulidor providing a urine sample for testing which led to a protest the following day.

Racing Through The Dark- David Millar's Story

Racing Through The Dark- David Millar's Story is a great cycling book on doping culture
Racing Through The Dark- David Millar's Story is a great cycling book on doping culture | Source

A Current Pro's View From The Dark Side- Garmin's David Millar Tells His Story

David Millar seemingly had it all. He was the Team Leader for the French Cofidis Professional Cycling Team and was World Time Trial Champion. But under the surface things were completely different.

In Racing Through The Dark, Miller candidly and honestly takes the reader through the circumstances which led to him doping and why he did it. Millar's autobiography doesn't seek redemption. All he sought was another chance and to make things better. His fall from grace was fast but Racing Through The Dark's deeply serious tone and is inspirational at wanting to make you get out on the bike and ride.

Essential reading for all young riders starting to make their way in the sport as well as fans looking for insights into cycling's doping culture.

The book breaks Millar's life down to three stages, before, during and then the rehabilitation phase. It names names and is brutally honest about what was happening in professional cycling at the time.

Racing Through The Dark- The David Millar Autobiography

Racing Through the Dark: Crash. Burn. Coming Clean. Coming Back.
Racing Through the Dark: Crash. Burn. Coming Clean. Coming Back.

The honest, sombre and deeply moving tail of David Millar's fall from grace through doping and his fight for redemption. A really inspiring read.


Inside The Festina Scandal With Willy Voet's Breaking The Chain

Willy Voet was a member of the backroom staff for the Festina Cycling Team when in 1998 his team car was stopped en route to the start of the Tour De France. A routine Police inspection showcased the dark side of professional cycling and revealed many of the preparations the Festina Team would be using during the race.

Willy Voet's Breaking The Chain was originally published in French and while the book is a translation: This book is a brilliant expose of doping at the heights of professional cycling and the performance benefits it bought to the Tour De France.

The book implicates some of the top riders in the Peloton at the time including the French darling Richard Virenque. This is a controversial account from a man who certainly had an axe to grind.

Breaking The Chain By Willy Voet

Breaking the Chain: Drugs and Cycling: The True Story (Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics)
Breaking the Chain: Drugs and Cycling: The True Story (Yellow Jersey Cycling Classics)

A graphic and detailed account on the 1998 Festina Scandal which rocked cycling to the core. An account of doping at the high echelons of cycling and a must read for any cyclist.


Death Of A Flawed Genius- Marco Pantani

Italy's Marco Pantani was a majestic climber who won both the Giro D'Italia and Tour De France in 1998 during an era where drugs were of extreme prevalence in international cycling. Those Grand Tour wins should have acted as a springboard to dominance but behind the scenes were dark secrets in Pantani's life involving doping and depression which led towards cocaine addiction.

Matt Rendell's excellent biography- The Death Of Marco Pantani follows the star from his early development in Italy's fiercely competitive amateur levels to his emergence as one of the best climbers of his generation. Pantani was deeply feared by rivals including the now disgraced Lance Armstrong.

Pantani's death in 2004 was a deep tragedy for the sport of cycling and makes for a fascinating read.

The Death Of Marco Pantani by Matt Rendell

The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography
The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography

Marco Pantani was destined for greatness yet had deep underlying secrets which ultimately led to his demise. This book tells his story in great detail.


The Now Disgraced Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong's doping practices were exposed in The Secret Race through the inside knowledge of Tyler Hamilton.
Lance Armstrong's doping practices were exposed in The Secret Race through the inside knowledge of Tyler Hamilton. | Source

An Insight Into Doping In The Armstrong Era From Former Team-mate Tyler Hamilton

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle was the winner of the 2012 William Hill Sports Book Of The Year.

Hamilton's tale is one that's become increasingly popular in his connections to Lance Armstrong and The Secret Race paints a clear picture of what Armstrong was like to be around and work with.

The Secret race helps to look at how heavily doping was involved in cycling and rider preparation for the most grueling of all races- the Tour De France. From the logistics to the supply of drugs Hamilton is forthright in giving over the knowledge that has helped to lead to Armstrong's downfall.

The Life And Death Of Tom Simpson On Le Mont Ventoux

Tom Simpson died a deeply tragic death two kilometers from the top of the Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour. The place is now marked by a memorial to 'Major Tom' which has become a place of pilgrimage for cyclists across the world.

Simpson's biography is told by the brilliant Fotheringham am showcases the sheer will to win of the British rider who had openly admitted to doping in the quest of greatness. Simpson's death is told in great depth as well as the story of his rise to prominence from the working class upbringing in the Yorkshire town of Harworth.

Do You Know Of Any Books On Doping In Cycling We've Missed?

On Hubpages we're always looking for reader feedback and love to know your opinions (Good or bad!) on our articles. What did you think to our sight into cycling books on doping in the Tour De France?

Thanks for reading. Vive Le Tour

Liam Hallam- (CyclingFitness)


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    • byshea profile image


      6 years ago

      Some these look like great reads. It's going to be interesting to get the take on doping from people who were inside the sport. I'm curious as to the reasoning behind their decisions.

    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks carol. Cycling fans hold many riders in adulation- it's a shame that even the best have been implicated.arguably the best rider ever- eddy Merckx was guilty of doping and with the revelations into lance Armstrong too it's vital now that that fight against doping at the high level intensifies. I don't want to vilify a rider for cheating but we can learn so much from their mistakes and actions. Thanks for the share and pin- it's much appreciated. Liam

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      well written and I know what a big problem this doping is..I can understand that the desire to win and have the acclaim leads many to doing whatever necessary to reach that goal. Thanks for the review here and a book many should read. I am sharing and pinning...


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