It seems to me that bicycle racing has long been divorced from what people like me do when we ride bicycles for long distances.
For instance (ignoring the doping thing):
- I have to fix my own flat tires and equipment, these guys get follow vehicles with mechanics, doctors, etc.
- I ride just one bike the entire tour, and if I break it, I'm stuck. These guys get special bikes for each stages.
- I carry my own luggage the entire way, these guys don't carry anything, not even tools to fix their own gear.
I'm not saying that the old days of the Tour De France were free of cheaters (earliest tours featured "racers" who were caught taking trains to skip stages, etc). But at least the Tour they rode had some resemblance to the kind of riding I do. Now, it's so unrelated I won't really notice if the Tour went away next year because of all the doping scandals. Perhaps bicycle racing has become too mainstream for its own good.