The Irish woman who exposed the drug doping scandal around cyclist Lance Armstrong has revealed her deep affection for him and her belief that doctors and team managers were most to blame for the heavy doping.
Emma O’Reilly was a team masseuse and senior aide to Armstrong and his team and her evidence to the US Anti Doping agency was critical in revealing the massive doping that went on.
She told the Sunday Independent she was deeply afraid after her allegations first became known.
"I felt kind of threatened from every angle, you're potentially facing being made bankrupt and your reputation being torn to shreds . . . and yet Lance Armstrong could sit there at a press conference when he announced the Discovery (Channel) sponsorship and malign me saying: 'Well yeah, we had dealings with her, yeah she had to go because of you know . . .' I thought, 'Lance, you scum. you know that I handed in my notice and you know what you did.'"
She stated she had deep affection for Armstrong.
"If anything I was incredibly fond of Lance. There was a funny side to him and he had a good sense of humour and I was working very closely with him and yet I was never helping him with a very important part of his training. So it wasn't coercion.
"I decided to do it. It was more me feeling bad that I wasn't helping him as much as I could. Really and truthfully he kind of let me stay out of the drugs for a long time given the amount of contact we had.
"In hindsight, I can see he really respected my decision to stay out of the (drug) programme.
"I was spending 100 days a year with him, and when I say 'with him' it was very intense. You are in the hotel with him. We do dinners and then you spend 40 minutes to an hour together while I was doing the massage and stuff like that.
"Your job is to look after the riders. It's a very close relationship. So it got to the stage where I was thinking 'well I get you the breakfast cereal you want but the doping programme is more important than the breakfast cereal.'"
The US anti-doping agency says that O’Reilly was present during much of the doping. "Emma O'Reilly was in the room giving Armstrong a massage when Armstrong and team officials fabricated a story to cover the positive test. Armstrong and the team officials agreed to have Dr. del Moral backdate a prescription for cortisone cream for Armstrong which they would claim had been prescribed in advance of the tour to treat a saddle sore.
"O'Reilly understood from Armstrong, however, that the positive had not come from a topical cream but had really come about from a cortisone injection Armstrong received around the time of the Route du Sud a few weeks earlier.
Armstrong told O'Reilly, 'Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down.'"
The report also details road trips she made to pick up the banned drugs.
O’Reilly repeated her admiration for him. "I liked him. He was as tough as nails. Mentally, he was the toughest person I have ever come across and I loved his attention to detail and I loved the fact that he looked into absolutely everything. In a sense he took complete responsibility for his life and where it went.
"I suppose in one way Lance was a dreamer, perhaps the biggest dreamer of all. He tried to make his dreams come true. We did get on well and I was incredibly fond of him and he was good to me."
"I don't feel sorry for him. You don't feel sorry for Lance. I don't mean that in an awful way. Yes, he has a whole heap of problems now, but he will find a way. He will look for a solution.
"I think he isn't a happy camper at the moment and I am glad I am on a different continent but he will get on with things. That's the way he is. He is not a victim. He doesn't lie down and play dead."
She bales team managers and doctor more than Armstrong.
"Johan (Bruyneel, Armstrong's former manager) has been taken down, three doctors, Pepe the courier has been taken down, and that is one of the reasons why I spoke to Usada. I thought: 'right they are not just going against Lance and the other big cyclists they are going after the others,'" she said.
"To me Lance was never the problem ... The riders, to me, were the victims. They were purely the symptom of this massive problem that the sports directors and the doctors were perpetrating on them. The doctors have the responsibility for the health of the riders on their shoulders.
"That's what I had a huge problem with. I was polite to the doctors but I always kept my distance from them. I could never reconcile that these guys had gone to college, taken the Hippocratic oath.
"Fine these lads (cyclists) are making decisions to go on the programme but that was what it was like in the Nineties. You went in the (drugs) programme or you went and looked for another job. If you were not on the programme you were getting your arse handed to you day in day out by riders who you knew were not as good as you."
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