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  1. I guess, in a round about way, my recent reading spluge on pro cycling related books has been leading up to this title. I followed the Lance Armstrong USADA investigation and his eventual (if belated) admission with great interest, yet strangely I did follow the sport all that closely during Armstrong's dominance. I have simply know the rough outline of his legend. Cancer survivor, seven time winner of the Tour de France, what's not to admire? What's not to love? It's the mixture of real life drama and sporting excellence that all great stories are made of... I never knew how dark the story actually was. It would seem there is an awful lot of dirty work that has to be done in the background to sell such a legend. David Walsh was never a believer in the Armstrong myth, he was one of the few journalists that hounded the cyclist throughout his dominant years, at no little cost to his professional and private life. In this book he spins a narrative from the very beginning of his love for the sport of cycling (and sport in general) to the moments that the curtain was drawn back for him regarding performance enhancing drug use. From that time he was a force to feret out the cheats. Walsh tells of his first meeting with a young Armstrong before his very first tour through how he was treated by the 'Armstrong Camp' throughout his constant questioning and disbelief of what was happening. It's a tough story to tell, because there is no doubt Walsh must feel vindicated after over a decade of people refusing to belive his stories. Yet the narrative is never smug, it never has the tone of a man that wants to preach 'I told you so.' It's written more with a sense of relief. The stages and complexity of the Armstrong doping system is quite eye-opening. Armstrong and his 'team' do not get painted in a good light, they are shown to be bullies in the grandest sense. Threatening (and actually following through in some cases) to ruin people's lives to protect the intergrity of his legend. Even after all of the cycling books I have read leading up to this one, I was caught out with a few surprises and stories I hadn't known. Walsh does a good job of bringning together over 20 years of his career (and life) into a book that sums up his struggle to reveal the truth. Not only reveal it, however, but to have that truth believed. He is humble enough to point out some of his own flaws, especially regarding how he treated some of his sources, but their stories are what make the whole thing so fascinating. I would reccomend this book to anyone with a passing interest in cycling, and anyone who accepting Armstrong's achievements at the time without a questioning glance. Walsh's description of the Opera interview is worth a read on it's own, as is the section that suggests Armstrong's cancer could have been casued by his drug use in the first place... There are also huge questions that implicate how lax the bodies that test and run cycling have been for decades. On a side note, walsh has written a few books in the past regarding Armstrong (before the admission), I'm told by others, there is a lot of repitiion in this tome, but it is the most up to date.
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