In October 2012, the whole world was agog with the news that cycling champion, Lance Armstrong was faced with doping allegations. He was later found guilty of the allegations, stripped of his seven Tour De France titles and banned from competitive cycling for life.
Now in an exclusive story by Mail Online, we get to see who the whistle-blower on Armstrong was. Her name is Emma O’Reilly; an Irish soigneur attached to Armstrong. (Soigneur is a French word that means “one who cares for others.” In this case, a soigneur toils for a professional cycling team and cares for them.)
In this recent interview with Mail Online, Armstrong comes face-to-face with O’Reilly who didn’t even know the full story about Armstrong’s doping when she ratted him out as a drug cheat. O’Reilly always believed there was a bigger conspiracy and with her sitting before him, Armstrong finally revealed that Hein Verbruggen; the then president of world cycling knew about his drug abuse and encouraged him to cover up his doping.
Armstrong is using the opportunity of exposing the conspiracy of the cycling bosses to his full advantage. He wants his life ban reduced and he wants to work with cycling’s UCI governing body to achieve this. They will surely see his latest bombshell as a chance to open further discussions with him at their proposed truth and reconciliation committee hearing.
Verbruggen on the other hand has insisted that he has never been involved in doping cover-ups. He said:
“I have never acted inappropriately and my conscience is absolutely clean. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I admit that I could have done some things differently, but I do not accept that my integrity is in doubt.”
Armstrong has no desire to protect senior UCI officials if he appears before the independent inquiry that has been called for by Englishman Brian Cookson, world cycling’s new president. It has been made clear to Armstrong that if he cooperates with the inquiry panel, he could be rewarded with a reduction of his lifetime ban to eight years. Armstrong told Sportsmail:
“To think I am protecting any of these guys after the way they treated me, that is ludicrous. I’m not protecting them at all. I have no loyalty towards them. ‘I’m not going to lie to protect these guys. I hate them. They threw me under the bus. I’m done with them.”
This story is getting even messier by the day. I pray Armstrong has learnt his lessons and hopefully his life ban will be reduced and he can get back to cycling again. I’m rooting for his return.