Rachel Wyse: Froome a victim of the cheats that have gone before him
For Chris Froome, the dream and the reality are proving very different. They shouldn't be, but they are.
Team Sky's leader of the Tour de France is suffering, and not solely because of his exertions in the saddle. Froome's brilliance these past weeks has been tainted by the actions of those that have gone before him.
It is a desperately sad reality, but nobody can undo the wrongs of cycling's history. On the road, potential champions know the battle that awaits. Out of the saddle, riders in this era and eras to come face problems they didn't create and can never fully surmount.
They can't and shouldn't be held responsible for the actions of Lance Armstrong and Co. The timing of Froome's outstanding rise is unfortunate and it is regretful that his achievements could be damaged by public perceptions. The level of frustration must be incredible.
The problem is, the public has been here before. We've seen excellence, we heard the rumours, and we welcomed the denials only to be later disappointed.
There isn't much more Froome can offer in his defence to doping allegations.
Team Sky's boss Dave Brailsford said as much on Monday last. "How can I prove to you that we're not doping? I haven't got a magic wand to help convince you guys. Help me out," he said to reporters.
As Team Sky continued their denials, news broke of athletes Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell's failed drug tests. More cheating among elite sportsmen. Gay, a triple world champion, and Powell, a former world record holder, will have their explanations, but no one really cares.
Explanations make for mere background noise; the damage is done and opinions have been formed. Yet more substance for the cynics.
Naturally in such circumstances, the spotlight shifts to Usain Bolt. For many there is a seed of doubt. What does it say if Bolt can beat guys who are testing positive? What can Bolt do about it? People will believe what they want to believe. Just as they will form an opinion on Froome's performance in the Tour.
Sadly, too many people were broken by the nature and extent of Armstrong's cheating.
His blatant denials, lies and slandering of innocent people were, in many minds, far worse even than his decision to avail of performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong took people too far down a wrong path.
The will is no longer there for those to find their way back. Froome must live with this reality. For all his excellence, he is just another victim. In a strange way, the cheats have made us all victims.