Wednesday 23 May 2018

'We had a screaming match': Paul Kimmage explains how his relationship with David Walsh broke down Newsdesk Newsdesk

No two journalists are as linked with the fall of Lance Armstrong more so than Paul Kimmage and David Walsh.

The duo doggedly pursued the American cyclist during his heyday, consistently questioning whether his achievements could be believed. Armstrong tried to silence them through legal action, but Kimmage and Walsh were ultimately vindicated when Armstrong's doping was proved and he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

However, the long-time friends have since fallen out over another cycling matter. The success of Team Sky has prompted massive praise as well as scrutiny from a selection of journalists, most notably Kimmage.

David Walsh spent time inside Team Sky, producing both a book and a series of articles where he professed his belief that the team was clean.

A recent data breach orchestrated by hacking group Fancy Bears saw a large number of drug exemptions (TUEs) granted by WADA revealed, with those given to Team Sky's Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins proving particularly controversial.

The questions now being asked of Wiggins are questions that Kimmage feels Walsh should have been asking from the moment he embedded himself with Team Sky.

Speaking to Off The Ball on Newstalk yesterday, the Sunday Independent journalist - who tackled the subject in his over the weekend column - explained how his relationship with Walsh broke down over the issue.

Read more: Paul Kimmage: So many questions not asked, so many questions remain unanswered

"My point would be would be that David Walsh had these doubts from day one, and for whatever reason, I would suspect it is celebrity, and the effect of not having a friend to say 'look, you have to get your head out of your ass, and actually look at what's happening', that affected his judgement," Kimmage said to Joe Molloy.

He then outlined instances where he felt Walsh could have highlighted issues within Team Sky, such as Wiggins previously expressing admiration for Lance Armstrong, or by Walsh mentioning that Team Sky boss David Brailsford had rescinded an offer to Kimmage to spend time with the team before the Sunday Times journalist was allowed in.

"From the get go, David Walsh has gone out and has his mind made up that these guys are great," he said.

Things between the two then came to a head after Walsh's first piece describing life inside Team Sky was published in early 2013.

"We had a screaming match, not an argument, a screaming match," Kimmage says, before he later added 'The relationship is dead. It's over, that's it, finished."

For the last two weeks, Walsh has written pieces that have criticised Team Sky for a lack of transparency, and Kimmage was asked by Molloy whether the Sunday Times journalist has changed his mind on the issue.

"Has he changed his mind? I don't know," Kimmage said.

"I think he is now recognising the stuff he should have recognised back then, had his judgement not been affected by the plaudits he was getting. I keep waiting for some kind of mea culpa. I may actually have got this wrong, I'm waiting for that to happen. Is that unfair?"

Read Paul Kimmage's full column on the TUE scandal here.

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