Monday 23 October 2017

Lance Armstrong: 'I will sit down with Paul Kimmage'

Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has admitted he acted inappropriately when he challenged Paul Kimmage during the journalist's investigation into doping.

The American said he would apologise to Mr Kimmage and that he would like to sit down for an interview with him.

However, the Sunday Independent columnist said he is reluctant to believe Armstrong's claim until the pair have spoken directly.

Mr Kimmage said he listened to the cyclist's interview on Newstalk last Friday night but that he was reluctant to take too much from it.

"I listened with interest but as for his new willingness to speak to me… well, I'll believe it when he responds to the message I sent him."

The journalist had requested the pair sit down for an interview after Armstrong tweeted him, asking him to attend a conference in Dublin later this month.

The American has yet to respond to Mr Kimmage directly.

Speaking last Friday night, Armstrong said he was "a complete d***head" in the way he dealt with the Sunday Independent columnist's work to highlight and uncover doping.

The pair were involved in a heated exchange at a press conference ahead of the 2009 Tour of California after the Irishman labelled him a "cancer in cycling".

"Paul's an interesting case," said Armstrong.

"I had one interaction with Paul at the press conference in California. I didn't handle it right. I'd love to, whether it's in an interview or over a beer or whatever; I'd sit with Paul any time and say, 'Hey, my bad, I'm sorry. I was a complete d***head'."

He added he knows very little about the journalist and said he would be willing to be interviewed by him.

"He wants to do an interview. I think there's a time and a place for he and I to sit down, but, truth be told, I don't know Paul Kimmage. I don't have anything against Paul Kimmage. There was that one interaction which I'll fully cop to, I'll fully confess that I was out of line, but, other than that, I'm happy to sit down with him at some point."

The cyclist made the public apology to Kimmage on Newtalk's Off the Ball show on Friday night and listed a host of people who were caught up in his doping scandal with whom he has tried to make amends.

The list included Betsy Andreu, the wife of his former teammate, Frankie.

The pair were close to Armstrong before becoming embroiled in a lengthy row that resulted in the Texas-born cyclist being exposed as part of a huge doping cover-up.

He later admitted he had taken performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, including during his seven Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005.

US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) called it "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen" before he was stripped of his titles.

An investigation remains ongoing.

However, Armstrong said he was sorry.

"I've apologised multiple times [to Betsy Andreu]. "I'm a big boy, she's a big girl. What I've learned is you can't force someone to accept an apology. Whether it's the Andreus, whether it's the LeMonds, whether it's Emma O'Reilly (a whistleblower).

"I've travelled the world to make it right with these people.

"Not only did I say [sorry], but I meant it. I don't know what else I need to do."

He added that he knew he would face some difficult questions in the future about his previous actions but insisted he was happy to address them.

"Every time I do a talk, I say to the room: 'I'm not here to bull***t you. If you ask the question I'm going to answer the question.' If there happens to be a question that is too close and too sensitive to the federal case here in the United States, I'm just going to tell you that I can't answer that question. Having said that, I've never not answered a question.

"You get some people that are genuinely really p***ed off. Those aren't the easiest questions, but that's just part of it. This is not something that people are going to forget about or move on from. People want something, whether it's an apology or a direct answer or some contrition, and I welcome those opportunities. It's the spot I've got myself in."

Sunday Independent

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