In the wake of reports from the USADA that famous cyclist Lance Armstrong was guilty of using illegal performance enhancing drugs, sponsors have dropped him from their brands while his former masseuse Emma O’Reilly will hit Irish televisions on Thursday in an interview.
This week, the USADA filed a report that Armstrong had in fact been using performance enhancing drugs while competing, and ordered that his entire 14 year racing record be erased. As part of the erasure, Armstrong is forced to forego his seven Tour de France titles he won.
Aside from the apparent irreparable damage his athletic record has felt, Armstrong is also suffering as far as endorsement deals go. Sports giant Nike will no longer be sponsoring Armstrong, and said in a statement that there was “seemingly insurmountable evidence" against him.
Similarly, Anheuser-Busch said that Armstrong’s contract, which expires at the end of this year, will not be renewed.
Armstrong made the decision himself to step down from his 15-year-old charity Livestrong in order "to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career.” Nike and Anheuser-Busch did say that they will continue to support Livestrong’s effort in cancer support and research.
Though he will no longer serve as chairman, Armstrong, a cancer survivor, will remain on the board for Livestrong.
The disgracing blows to Armstrong’s career come just a week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency published a report that said the cyclist was part of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The USADA went on to say that there was "direct documentary evidence including financial payments, e-mails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong.”
A number of people close to Armstrong offered damning testimony as well. One person who testified was Emma O’Reilly, Dublin native and Armstrong’s former masseuse. O’Reilly will be appearing on RTE on Thursday in an interview with Craig Doyle.
O’Reilly remembers feeling like a “drug-runner” while working with Armstrong in the 1990s: “So we went down, six hours down that way, Johan [Bruyneel] gave me the tablets, very discretely, without letting anybody else know that I was getting them, and the following day we want back up to France and then the following morning I met Lance in the car park at McDonald’s and just handed them over.”
Now, though, O’Reilly says of her testifying that, “It was never about bringing Lance down. It was about cleaning up cycling.”
O’Reilly contributed to the book ‘L.A. Confidential,’ written by Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, after ending her involvement with US Postal in 2000. The book presented evidence against Armstrong, who subsequently labelled her a “prostitute” and an “alcoholic,” according to O’Reilly.
President of Livestrong, Doug Ulman, said on Wednesday that he hopes Armstrong’s doping allegations won’t detract from the hard work he has put in to Livestrong.
"Lance's devotion to serving others whose lives were irrevocably changed by cancer, as his was, is unsurpassable," Ulman said in a statement issued after Wednesday's announcement.
"We are incredibly proud of his record as an advocate and philanthropist and are deeply grateful that Lance and his family will continue to be actively involved with the Foundation's advocacy and service work."
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore