MADRID, Colombia (AP) — After a punishing climb in the Andean mountains surrounding Colombia’s capital, Armando Cardenas leans against his bike to catch his breath. In a decade-long career racing professionally, Cardenas never reached the same international heights as the country’s biggest cycling stars. Though with seven national titles and a medal at the Pan-American Games, the 37-year-old got to live his dream of cycling professionally. Like many of his fellow Colombian cyclists, he also made the decision to dope. “I wanted to know what it meant to race while doping,” said Cardenas, who now coaches a crop of local talent, “and the difference was huge.” In the weeks since Egan Bernal became the first Colombian to win the Tour de France, the country has been basking in attention focused on its reputation for churning out specialist climbers raised on thin mountain air and possessing the sort of extreme stamina taught by poverty. But that wholesome image, a welcome antidote to a sport tarnished globally by scandal, risks being undercut by a festering doping problem that the country has been slow to address. In August, Alvaro Duarte tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug after winning top climbing honors at the… Read full this story
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