Pride comes before a fall, they say, and Spain’s proud recent sporting record has taken a battering in the past few days.
After a year during which the Iberian nation has all but monopolised the back pages – World Cup winners, Nadal’s Wimbledon and US Open wins (the latter completing his Grand Slam), Contador’s third Tour de France triumph and even Fernando Alonso’s current run of form – an unflattering spotlight has now been trained on the country’s attitude towards doping.
As a fourth Spanish cyclist in as many days tests positive for a banned substance – this time it’s the women’s triple mountain biking world champion and Olympic medallist Margarita Fullana who has now admitted to taking EPO – UCI President Pat McQuaid has questioned the resolve of the Spanish authorities to deal with the issue.
The Associated Press reports that he told journalists at the Road World Championships in Geelong: "There is a problem in Spain because ... a large percentage of our doping cases come from Spain. There doesn't seem to be, so far, the will to tackle that in Spain and that really needs to come from the government down."
"In relation to anti-doping, and in particular in relation to Spain and especially over the last couple of days in Spain, cycling has taken a big hit," McQuaid said. "We have over the past month sanctioned four big Spanish riders.
"The (Spanish) government needs to work with the sport. The government needs first of all to recognize there's a problem and I don't know that they actually recognize there's a problem.Then they need to sit down with the sport and put a lot of measures in place."