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

Release date: 13th December, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £18.99
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There was the briefest of periods during the BBC's 2012 Sports Personality of the Year award programme when Bradley Wiggins' position as odds-on favourite was subjected to a potential threat.

Midway through the programme, a montage of still photographs depicting a grimacing, yellow jersey-wearing Lance Armstrong may have created the impression in some viewers' minds that cycling remained ravaged with drug abusers and, by extension, affected Wiggins' status amongst the British public.

Thankfully it didn't and we should be grateful that following the incredible investigative work of David Walsh, cycling is now almost certainly as free from performance-enhancing drugs as most other professional sports.

Walsh's lengthy pursuit of the truth regarding Armstrong was not without scares. He was threatened, sued and ostracised from many within cycling's most prestigious 'inner circles', but he kept going, gradually turning from a "fan with a typewriter" to a journalist urging his peers to get off their knees and "approach [cycling's] stars with a level gaze and honest questions".

Walsh clearly had doubts from the point at which he reported on Armstrong's first Tour de France victory in 1999. "There are times," he wrote, "when it is right to celebrate, but there are other occasions when it is equally important to keep your hands by your sides."

Armstrong and his aides were furious, not least because Walsh was one of a small coterie of reporters over whom they had no control.

Walsh, meanwhile, took the resulting abuse, vicious rumours and even the tragic loss of his 12 year-old son, John, in his stride and maintained what he calls his "unavoidable duty" to expose Armstrong.

On 22nd October, he was vindicated when the International Cycling Union (UCI) accepted the findings of a US Ant-Doping Agency report, banned Armstrong for life and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.

This is one of the most powerful sports books ever written, yet despite its length (over 420 pages), Walsh, an accomplished journalist, retains the reader's attention throughout. A 'must-read' for anyone with an interest in modern sport.


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