Skip to main content

Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh

Cover image © Simon & Schuster UK.
Being on holiday on a Caribbean island for four weeks provides ample time for getting some reading in. Anse des Sables in Saint Lucia provided a great backdrop for reading about one man’s manipulation of Le Tour de France for so many years.

In Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, David Walsh introduces us to the depths of Lance Armstrong’s cheating in various races and chiefly his record-breaking seven Tour de France wins. Furthermore, he demonstrates that despite Armstrong’s name becoming synonymous with cheating in cycling recently, he cheated with plenty of help from others.

Seven Deadly Sins is as much the story of Walsh as it is of Armstrong’s deception, especially as the two stories seemingly become more enmeshed as time goes on. 

The book doesn’t just take aim at Armstrong; Irish cycling heros Sean Kelly and Stephan Roche also come in for criticism. Walsh talks about the rattling of pills in the back pocket of Kelly’s jersey in his early days as a sports writers and purposefully downplaying the incident as he’d been hired as Kelly’s biographer.

What plays out in the book is a complex chess game between a number of protagonists and antagonists. Walsh, Pierre Ballester, disgruntled former members of the US Postal team and an increasingly small number of journalists on one side, and the might of Armstrong, his collaborators and the believers of his miracle comeback on the other side.

Cue countless tales of lawsuits, threats, clandestine meetings and the majority of the sporting world deceived. It is testament to Walsh’s bloody-mindedness that he didn’t give up the chase and even managed to find time to challenge Roche’s ‘cleanliness’ as a former Grand Tour winner.

Ultimately, we know how this story ends; in a pretty unapologetic interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey in which Armstrong’s primary defence seems to be that, ‘well, everyone else was at it, but we just did it better.’

Well worth a read for cycling fanatics, people who love a little real-life sporting drama, or those who love investigative journalism. One thing's for sure, Walsh is a good writer and is able to tell what could be quite a dry tale in a very exciting way.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called

Breaking the Barriers to Girls’ Education in the Developing World

Whenever I have written about time I’ve spent in East Africa, I often talk about the fact that geography plays such a big role in how different my life is compared to someone there. What I hadn’t realised until much more recently is that not only does somebody’s physical location in the world play a massive part in the opportunities available to them, but so does their gender.
One question that begs to be asked is: why is it that girls in particular are less likely to get access to education in poorer countries?
According to Plan UK, women earn 30-60% of men’s earnings for similar jobs and women are more likely to be in low-paid employment, yet an extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15-25%. Many don't even have the opportunity to get this far.
There are obvious cultural and economic pressures dictating that boys, as historical breadwinners, should be pushed to the fore and afforded the greater opportunities to be educated.
After all, imagine you are…

The Bakiga Window: Taufiq Islamic Primary School: Part II

In a manner so typically Ugandan, Yasim approaches silently and politely asks whether he can have a word with me – it is one of those ironies that a word has to be had in order to have a word with someone. Irony aside, he has heard back from the Sheikh and arranged an appointment for me.
It is Wednesday 20th April and once more I find myself en route to Taufiq Islamic Primary School. The morning started in the usual way: waking up sleepy students, ensuring that everyone had 'taken' breakfast and had a supply of bottled water, and then walking with the group down the hill, into the town. At the foot of the hill, the group scattered into many fragments, with everyone off in search of their own adventures. I head straight on, past the noise of the metal workers, over to Taufiq.
After having had to beat a hasty retreat last week, I was unsure of who would be in my reception committee.
Teacher Bright was the first to greet me, before taking me inside to meet with the Headteacher L…