Speech: Le Tour de France and Drug Cheating

“To change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted. It was unacceptable, inexcusable. He was an asshole.” Lance Armstrong, just one of hundreds caught using banned substances to boost their performance in ‘Le Tour de France,’ an annual 23-day-long road cycling race that has been running for over 100 years. It is one of the most notorious professional sports events for athletes using performance enhancing drugs such as EPO,  testosterone, nandrolone and many, various other illegal drugs and practices.

Over the years, an illusion has been created in Le Tour de France. This illusion being that when you look at the peloton of riders, you see it is filled with amazing athletes with incredible strength and endurance, when really who actually is in that peloton is a deceiving version of a rider who wouldn’t be in the position or at such a high level if it wasn’t for the use of the many drugs or steroids they are taking.

Road-cycling the monstrous mountains of France for 23 days in a row would be quite the lung buster, especially when you’re coming up against the best cyclists and teams of athletes in the world, who can ride over 200km in just 4 hours. To put that in perspective, thats like riding your bike over the Crown Range to Queenstown and back, averaging a speed of 50 km/h. If you were in that situation, don’t you think it would cross your mind to cheat in order to beat everyone else at some time? For many of the competitors in Le Tour de France over the years it certainly has, and too many actually go through with it and do cheat, by using performance enhancing drugs, and quite frankly, ruining professional sport.

On the list of sports with the most drug users, road cycling is right at the very top, with 3.7% of cyclists at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels caught. This may not sound like very much but once you get to professional levels it increases drastically. For example, over the seven-year span from 1999 to 2005, 87% of the top ten finishers in the Tour de France over those years were caught doping, thats 61 out of 70 riders. How would you feel if you were one of those other 9 riders who was genuinely riding, trying to win, but with no chance because everyone else has unnaturally made their bodies have a much better aerobic respiration system and has taken away the problem of fatigue as they have taken away their bodies anaerobic ability to produce lactic acid. Those riders would’ve almost definitely taken out the win if the other cheating riders didn’t decide to ruin everyone else’s chances and create an uneven playing field.

One of those riders, who is now probably now more famous for cheating than what he actually achieved when he was riding is Lance Armstrong. He went from being someone that parents told their kids to aspire to be like, to someone that parents tell their kids that they’ll disown if they ever do anything like what he did. However, earlier in his career he was seen as quite the hero, and rightly so. Over the years from 1999 to 2005, Lance won 7-consecutive Le Tour de France titles, which is the most in the tours history. This streak starting just two years after going through aggressive chemotherapy for testicular cancer. For the next seven years he was a labelled as a legendary athlete who defied the odds. His glory lasted for 7 years, up until 2012, when he admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was using EPO throughout what was thought to be an illustrious career. He was immediately stripped of all 7 of his titles and an Olympic bronze medal that he won in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. But what is probably the worst thing is that he lost all his sponsors which included huge brands such as Nike, Trek Bicycles and Oakley which were paying him over $20 million US in endorsements even after he retired. After other professional cyclists saw the scandal with the money he lost and the millions of ex-fans giving hatred towards him and what he got taken away from him you would think they’d decide to never go down the path of doping, but you’d be wrong. Still athletes, not just cycling are still frequently getting caught all over the world for it and therefore ruining their careers, reputations and also giving themselves long term health problems. Although, most athletes are only dealt a 2-year ban from professional sports meets after being caught, which is virtually granting them a second chance. Which is not fair to anyone else that is true to the rules of the sport and is happy to compete on an even playing field.

So as you can see, the temptation of cheating is certainly high but how it affects you and everyone else around you should be the deciding factor in making the decision not to do it, because if you do, you may end your career much like Lance Armstrong, an athlete that is now hated and left with nothing, but did actually have the potential to be really good at what he did. And to the many athletes who still compete after being caught using doping drugs, consider yourselves lucky, because your career should have ended the moment you were caught cheating and discovered to have been ruining the careers of true athletes.










The Great Gatsby – Planning Grid: Setting

Describe at least one important place in the written text.

Explain how that place helped you to understand an important message in the text.


Setting Important Message Evidence x2
Valley of Ashes Failed American Dream “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”



East Egg & West Egg Represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.
Manhattan People trying to make wealth, and the quest to make riches and get pleasure.


“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”  ‘The Great Gatsby,’ a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Nick Carraway, the stories narrator tells the story of Jay Gatsby’s quest from rags to riches to acquire his love of 5 years, Daisy Buchanan. The story takes place in New York, and many of these settings show main ideas that the book promotes, These settings being The Valley of Ashes, East Egg and Manhattan. 

Throughout the story, the Valley of Ashes shows the idea of the American Dream being a failure. It shows the quest for wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure. Our first view on the valley is when Nick and Gatsby are going through it towards Manhattan. Nick describes the scene as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” He then adds that it is “where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke.” He then goes on to describe the people of the valley as “ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”  When he says this it paints a picture of the poor and how they live in this really dirty environment that isn’t the ideal place to be living. It also informs the reader of the social decay that is present in this setting which is a result from the rich not caring. Fitzgerald uses this setting to illustrate that the world has lost care for people that are less fortunate as what they are. They are just left to rot in the slums and ghettos of the dirty neighbourhoods that are spread all over our globe. The American Dream is ideally meant to be equality of opportunity to anyone, but the people that are dumped in the Valley of Ashes aren’t given any opportunities and are certainly not treated equal to people who live in the East Egg for example. The wealthier people just sit back with their feet up as people that struggle for money are working to make a living for themselves and a family that relies on them. Fitzgerald is trying to put the message across to the real world that maybe people should make more of an effort to create equality throughout our time on this planet, because every person does deserve it and they only are here once.

Secondly, Fitzgerald uses the East Egg and West Egg as some of the main settings for the characters throughout the story. They are situated in Long Island, New York. East Egg is across the bay from Gatsby and Nick’s houses and is where Tom and Daisy lives, and West Egg is where Gatsby and Nick live, and where Gatsby’s huge, extravagant parties go down. West Egg is said to be the “well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” East Egg is said to be the location of “Old Money,”  meaning that the people that live there have had their wealth and riches since they were born and came into a family that already had money, like Tom and Daisy, whereas West Egg is “New Money” meaning these people have just come into riches and made it there by themselves, sometimes illegally, like Gatsby. The East Egg and West Eggs are a representation of the American Dream being corrupt.


The Great Gatsby – Language Features

Fitzgerald has a very poetic way of presenting language. He uses the same devices consistently throughout his writing.

1. Select three passages from the book (about a paragraph or two in length) that we have NOT annotated as a class. Annotate these passages and identify the language features that Fitzgerald uses. Explain the effect of these features and why he may have chosen to use them.

1 – “This is the valley of ashes – a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat (simile) into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens (alliteration); where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys (metaphors) and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”                                        

2 – “Appalled by its raw vigour that chafed (personification) under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded (personification) its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing.” 

3 – “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us (represents Gatsby’s hopes that slowly fades away). It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further… And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current (metaphor), borne back (alliteration) ceaselessly in the past.”

2. Fitzgerald uses many allusions throughout the novel. Select one of these allusions and explain the connection between it and the book.

“Meyer Wolfsheim? No, he’s a gambler.” Gatsby hesitated, then added, coolly: “He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series in 1919.”

This is an alluding to the actual event of major league baseball that happened in the USA. The event was a true story and was an actual huge scandal in America at the time. This allusion is used to show that Wolfsheim is a very smart man with a lot of power to be able to do that. It is to emphasise his characters position in society.


The Great Gatsby – Theme

1. Explain what you think Fitzgerald is trying to say about society by presenting the idea of illusion so thoroughly throughout the text.

He is trying to portray that America is not a classless society and if anyone tries to change their class it always ends in tragedy, much like what happened to Gatsby. He tried to change from being a low class boy with no money into an insanely wealthy man, and he ended up getting killed all because of it.

2. Discuss how “illusion” is a real idea for teenagers. What problems/challenges/issues do teenagers face each day and how can we relate them to illusion.

For teenagers, their is the illusion of being the coolest and most popular person around. Young people try to be someone they are not by wearing the fashionable clothes and doing things they may not enjoy just to fit in with the “cool” crowd. This is an illusion because they are hiding behind someone who they are not, they just pretend to be this person to fit in with everyone else who is doing the exact same thing as them.


The Great Gatsby – Symbol

We have looked at several symbols in The Great Gatsby. Select 3 key symbols from the text and do the following for each symbol:

– Provide a description (using quotes) of the symbol from the text.

– Explain when and why the symbol appears throughout the text.

– Analyse what the symbol helps you to understand about an important character.

– Make a link between the symbol and the idea of illusion.

Green light: This is the light that is on the end of pier at Daisy and Tom’s mansion, it can be seen from Gatsby’s house, Gatsby often comes out to his pier to watch the green light. The symbol appears at the beginning of the novel but fades away towards the end of the novel, this is because the light symbolises Gatsby’s hopes and dreams and towards the end he begins to lose hope in his goal to get Daisy so the light fades. The light acts as his guide to get to Daisy to lead him to his overall goal.

Eyes of T.J. Eckleburg: These eyes are on a gigantic sign on the Valley of Ashes, they look over the valley. T.J. Eckleburg is a Doctor for eyes which is why his eyes are being advertised over the city. The symbol appears when the characters go through the Valley of Ashes to and from West Egg, towards Manhattan. The eyes represents god looking over the American society as a moral wasteland.

Flowers: A daisy flower symbolises innocence, purity, and beauty. Daisy Buchanan’s name is appropriately chosen as she appears to have all of these qualities, through the eyes of Gatsby. But what you often don’t see at first glance in a daisy is the yellow in the centre. This yellow represents her cupidity and moral corruption and her innocence and purity is just her appearance. This is an example that Gatsby shouldn’t of judged a book by it’s cover in this situation.

The Great Gatsby – Setting

1 – List the four main settings in the novel. Provide a description for each setting and explain what each setting represents.

West Egg: This is where Gatsby’s mansion is where all his extravagant parties take place, and Nick’s small house is just next door. It is in Long Island, New York. This setting represents ‘new money’ meaning the people that live here made their money later in life like Gatsby, they were not born into a wealthy family and they had to put in work to make their riches.

East Egg: This is where Tom and Daisy’s mansion is situated Long Island, New York. It is on the other side of the bay to Gatsby’s home and Gatsby can see a green light at Tom and Daisy’s house. He purposely situated his house here so he could always keep an eye on Daisy. This setting represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.

Valley of Ashes: This is where Tom Buchanan’s affair, Myrtle who lives with her husband George Wilson who is a mechanic. The people who live here are quite poor and all work hard to make a living for themselves. This is also where the gigantic sign with a picture of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg’s look over the valley. This setting represents the pursuit of wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure.

New York City: This is where Tom has his rented apartment, in which Nick goes with him to visit his secret affair, which is Myrtle Wilson. This is also where Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, Tom and Jordan go and Tom and Gatsby have their argument over who Daisy wants to be, which leads to Myrtle being killed after being hit by Gatsby’s car. This setting represents people trying to make wealth, and to quest to make riches and get pleasure.

2 – Select two of the settings from above and discuss how these settings helped you to understand the idea of illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.

Valley of Ashes: This shows the illusion that you can’t escape the poverty life and automatically get into the wealthy lifestyle. There is two examples of this in the book. Firstly, Gatsby illegally became rich to try and get the girl that he dreamed about, this resulted in him being shot  in the back of the head and killed. Then secondly, Myrtle tried to leave the Valley of Ashes when she thought she saw Tom’s car speeding past, she walked out and got hit by the car which killed her instantly.

East Egg: This setting displays an illusion as it is described as the ” more fashionable of the two,” the other being the West Egg. It is meant to be filled with happiness from all the wealth inside, when really it is filled with weak and disappointing characters. Tom and Daisy’s relationship for example, Daisy only stays with Tom for his money as she is well aware of his affairs with other woman.

The Great Gatsby – Character

1 – Describe three key characters and how they change in the novel.

2 – Explain what each character helped you to understand about illusion in the novel. Use quotes to support your ideas.

3. Describe three important relationships in the text and explain what they revealed about illusion

Nick:  Nick Carraway is the stories narrator, and everything is told from his perspective and what he thinks about the situation. He is lower class to everyone else that he surrounds himself with, such as Daisy, Tom and Gatsby, but he is accepted in because he is family to Daisy being her cousin. Throughout the novel he often serves the other characters by being their confidant, meaning the other characters trust him to hold their secrets. This is because Nick is honest and tolerant. He could be seen as a character that is almost spying around everyones personal lives. He changes throughout the novel as he realises he is actually really lonely and he has no one. “Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.” Throughout the novel, Nick portrays the illusion of him being a kind and understanding person that wouldn’t want to offend anyone, but as he hangs around with Gatsby, Tom and Daisy a lot, they begins to rub off on him. He really is quite judgemental and self-absorbed by the end of the summer.

Daisy: Daisy Buchanan is Gatsby’s dream that he has devoted a lot of his life to getting back after he got back from the war and she was married to a man called Tom Buchanan. She was born into a wealthy family and has lived as an upper class citizen her whole life. Daisy now lives with Tom across the bay From Gatsby in Long Island, New York. Without her Gatsby’s entire extravagant lifestyle of partying every night would of never happened because Gatsby thinks that if he has money that she will want him. She changes throughout the novel because at the start of the novel she seems as though she is a really beautiful and charming person, but by the end of the story she is seen as disappointing character. This is shown in the story as she knows about her husband, Tom’s affairs with other woman, and she does nothing about it. This is because she loves the life with so much power and money. She helps portray the idea of illusion as she can be seen as a rose. It looks innocent on the outside but when you touch it the thorns will hurt you, Daisy being the rose and Gatsby, the one touching it.

Gatsby: James Gatsby is a very wealthy man that lives in the giant mansion next to Nick’s small house. He hosts massive parties every night and anybody who is anybody attends. Most of the people who go to his parties don’t even know Gatsby, and many thinks he isn’t a real person. Jay Gatsby is an actual person, he is a wealthy man living in a mansion in the West Egg of Long Island in New York. He has devoted his life to get his girl of his dreams, Daisy Buchanan, which is why he has his extravagant parties, in hope that Daisy will wander into a party one day. Gatsby changes throughout the novel because at the beginning of the novel he thinks Daisy is the perfect woman, he thinks she is a loving, caring person which is why he wants her so bad. Towards the end of the novel he begins to realise that Daisy really is a shallow and disappointing person. He realises that he is in love with the idea of Daisy not Daisy herself.  Gatsby’s illusion is the biggest of all. When James Gatz left to the war, Daisy left him as she was in need of someone who could treat her to a wealthy lifestyle, so she left Gatz to be with Tom Buchanan, a very wealthy man who lived in Long Island, New York. 5 years later, a man by the name of Jay Gatsby emerged from nothing into this wealthy lifestyle that people like Daisy want to be part of. Jay Gatsby is an illusion, James Gatz is the real person behind him, he only became Gatsby so he could get the girl of his dreams.

Relationship between Gatsby and Daisy: This relationship began 5 years prior to when the events in the book take place. Gatsby and Daisy were madly in love, but Gatsby had to leave to go to war. Daisy said she would wait but then left him as he was poor and she wanted a man with wealth and riches. 5 years after that, and when the book takes place Gatsby is a wealthy man who lives in Long Island, New York in a gigantic mansion. This relationship shows illusion because Gatsby is not a real person. James Gatz is a poor man that is acting as Jay Gatsby, only because he wants to be with Daisy.

Relationship between Gatsby and Nick: Nick lives in a tiny house next to Gatsby’s massive mansion, the two become close acquaintances over the summer as Gatsby is on the quest for Daisy. They meet at a party at Gatsby’s near the beginning of the novel and create a close bond throughout the novel. This relationship shows an illusion because in the duo Nick is meant to be the kind and caring character, when throughout the novel Gatsby begins to rub off on Nick and Nick becomes a more self-absorbed person.

Relationship between Daisy and Tom: These two characters are a married couple living in the East Egg of Long Island, New York, which is the area of ‘old money,’ meaning they were born into a wealthy family and lived well their entire life. Daisy is aware that Tom is in an affair with another woman, called Myrtle from The Valley of Ashes, but never does anything about it. This relationship shows illusion as Daisy knows of Tom’s affairs, but doesn’t want to leave him because he is a wealthy and powerful individual. She only loves him for his money and not for him.