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Masseuse: I may show Lance mercy

EMMA O'REILLY, who was called an "alcoholic whore" by Lance Armstrong, may show mercy to the shamed cyclist as she ponders whether or not to bring legal action against the American.

Dubliner O'Reilly, a masseur and assistant on the US Postal team, said yesterday she was weighing up whether to show him the compassion he never offered her.

She suffered verbal abuse from Armstrong and then the nightmare of a two-and-a-half-year lawsuit after she made the revelations about the disgraced cyclist in a 2004 book.

"People shouldn't be able to speak about other people like that and get away with it. The libel laws in England did protect Lance and they didn't protect the people telling the truth. That is something that has to be addressed.

"But I also think a bit of compassion goes a long way. You can always forgive people but you can't necessarily forget. Maybe give him a chance, let him show true contrition."

Although she is considering taking legal action against Armstrong, her dilemma seems to demonstrate that of cycling generally. There is the desire to punish the man for his distasteful behaviour but, at the same time, also a hope that an olive branch will encourage him to tell the complete truth, providing the sport with information it badly needs.

"Sometimes in life you should stand up and be counted and women should not be spoken to, and spoken about in the way he did," O'Reilly said yesterday when asked about the legal action she might take.

"But I also feel that one of the options I should examine is just to leave this and get on with my life. My gut is telling me a bit of both. It's about self-respect sometimes.

O'Reilly said hearing Armstrong admit that he had doped on the 1999 Tour, exactly as she had claimed in the book LA Confidentiel, written by David Walsh and French journalist Pierre Ballester, had a profound affect on her.

"It was if all the tightness in my chest had a physical release, I felt like for the first time in years I could breathe," she said.

Sunday Times journalist Walsh said today he felt "a little bit of sympathy" for Lance Armstrong following the disgraced cyclist's admission of drug-taking during his career.

Walsh's long-time campaign to expose Armstrong was vindicated when the US Anti-Doping Agency confirmed his drug use late last year, prompting Armstrong to confess to Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong said in the interview he would consider apologising to Walsh

Walsh told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek: "I know this is going to sound preposterous but I felt a little but of sympathy for Armstrong. Intellectually he had to be remorseful, but emotionally he couldn't do it. Basically, Armstrong knew what he had to do but he wasn't capable of doing it because obviously he's got serious personality issues.

In a surprise move Johan Bruyneel - Armstrong's close friend and team manager throughout his seven 'wins' on the Tour de France - has reportedly confirmed he will co-operate with investigators from the Royal Belgian Cycling Federation, who are conducting an investigation into doping allegations within Belgian cycling.