An American is not going to win the Tour de France, which winds up Sunday in Paris. It looks like that honor is going to either Spain’s Alberto Contador or Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck.

But people who follow cycling should feel proud that this sport seems to have a firm handle on a problem affecting many professional sports: how to effectively test for drugs.

This year, as soon as  cyclists crossed the finish line of each leg to the Tour,  a black-vested chaperon sprinted to their side.  The chaperon stayed with them until the cyclists submitted blood and urine tests. This cuts down on the chance to  tamper or alter the samples.  Years ago, some riders were said to put protein on their hands to dilute the presence of the blood booster EPO in their urine samples.

So now the winner will stay the winner. That nasty memory of America’s Floyd Landis winning the 2006 Tour, then being defrocked when he  tested positive for synthetic testosterone, is not likely to  be repeated.

The Hotel de Crillon  in Paris flies the flag of choice of  the Tour’s winning rider. When Lance Armstrong won, it was the flag of Texas. When Landis “won,” the stars and stripes flew for a few days over Paris -- only to be unceremoniously  pulled down later.

-- Rob Kasper

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