The Tour de France limped along yesterday under a growing storm of criticism and calls that the event be halted. Three top riders were booted in 30 hours this week in a growing doping scandal. Even the performance by the race's new leader, Spain's Alberto Contador, was called "very suspicious" by a rival team manager.
"The sport is losing," said a German rider. The newspaper France Soir ran a mock death notice saying the tour died after a "long illness." Liberation called the race a "caravan of ridicule" that must be stopped. Italian Daniele Bennati took yesterday's 17th Stage, though Contador still holds a 1:53 overall lead.