The Tour de France came close to being permanently cancelled was in 1904 ( its second year of existence) when some riders cheated by taking the train or hitch-hiking. The four leading riders were disqualified. The race's founder, Henri Desgrange, was so appalled he nearly threw in the towel, but gave the Tour one last chance. The reprieve went on for another century. In 1924 the Pelissier brothers quit the race in Normandy, summoned the press to a cafe and showed them the pills they claimed they needed to meet the rigours of the Tour - strychnine, cocaine and other unidentified stimulants. Let’s not forget British cyclist Tommy Simpson whose death during the 1967 Tour was in no small part due to drug consumption.
There have been calls in France in recent years, especially after the “Festina affair” in 1998. Scandal or no scandal though, the Tour is still enormously popular: just look at the crowds that turned out for this year’s prologue in London! Crowds still line French roads hoping to catch a glimpse of the race. While the Tour does need to sort itself out (as does the world of competitive cycling) would you “destroy La Scala because the tenor sings out of tune?”
It may take a lot of reform but I am sure the Tour is here to stay. Those who want to look back to a “golden age” of the tour are a bit like those who hanker after a sweeter England (with the crack of leather on willow etc, in that they hanker after something that never quite existed. It doesn’t mean that it can’t exist in the future though.