June 18, 2004
US cyclists defend Armstrong
In California for the USCF nationals, US cyclists talked to the local paper on allegations leveled in L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong. Most rejected the book's claims, and suggested the authors are just trying to cash in on Armstrong's popularity in advance of his run at a 6th consecutive Tour de France title.
Navigators rider Chris Baldwin:
"If anything, it's a bunch of people trying to make money off of someone who has been through a lot and done a lot for our sport,' said Navigation Insurance rider Chris Baldwin of the furor over a new book that implicates Lance Armstrong in illegal drug use.
"I think the fact that they're releasing it right before the Tour de France shows that they're trying to make a spectacle out of it rather than do real reporting or research.'
Dave Zabriskie rides for the US contingent of US Postal, and offers something less than a vigorous denial; somebody from the team may want to coach him a little bit:
"I haven't talked to anybody from the team about it,' said Zabriske (sic), who won the time trial. "I don't feel any guilt, and I don't think Lance should either.
"It is bad for cycling, but I think Lance has enough lawyers and stuff to take care of all of those stupid problems.'
That's dangerously close to a non-denial denial.
John Lieswyn, of HealthNet/Maxxis:
"Even if he was doing drugs, he's still my hero,' Liewswyn said of Armstrong. "I would still have great respect for the guy. It just doesn't matter to me. That's probably why there's less fallout than might have been predicted.
"Some of the things reported in that book aren't even all that new or stunning. Someone says she took some bag of syringes somewhere. Big deal. Syringes are part of a clean rider's life too. I get syringes poked in my arms, and it's an IV solution of glucose water.
"I don't think it's going to make any difference in terms of how many jerks are out there on the side of the road painting syringes on posters and holding them up for the cameras. That's going to happen whether there was a book or not. Those are the people that I can't figure out why they're even bothering belittling cycling. If they're so bummed out and calling all the riders dopers, then why not pick another sport to watch?'
Emma O'Reilly, the source of many of the doping allegations in the book, appeared on France 3 to repeat the book's claims. Why these charges? Why now?
"I've got a nice quiet life here and I know what I've said is going to cause a lot of controversy, but I just felt that with the way the sport had become, it was time to speak out," she told France 3.
The only picture of O'Reilly I've seen since the story broke is in this Canada.com story.