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Cycle of Lies The Fall of Lance Armstrong By Juliet Macur

Release date: 17th March, 2014
Publisher: Williams Collins

List Price: £16.99
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There’s been so much written about Lance Armstrong he probably warrants a library section to himself. And just when you thought you knew everything about the Texan’s dirty deeds, along comes Juliet Macur with what is described as the ‘definitive inside story’ of his downfall.

Macur’s book is certainly comprehensive, the product of ten years’ worth of notes and interviews with all the major players (including the main protagonist himself) involved in Armstrong’s extraordinary success and his protracted fall from grace.

The book splits into six parts covering periods during which layers of increasingly convoluted lies were carefully constructed around Armstrong. Some layers were applied retrospectively: for instance, his three-times-married mother claimed to have been a ‘single mom’ although she was married to Terry Armstrong (her second marriage) for 14 years.

Craving a father figure, Armstrong eventually found one in a professional athlete named Rick Crawford who taught him how to channel his aggression into triathlon success and introduced him to doping.

Yet the Armstrong dichotomy remains puzzling. He was an outstanding athlete, but he chose to cheat to guarantee victory he probably would have achieved anyway. By 1993, for example, he had allegedly taken part in a sting to defraud a US company of $1 million, but had also recorded his first Tour de France stage victory.

Much of the second part of this book, the ‘Lies of the Sport’ has been comprehensively covered elsewhere, though by the time we reach part five ‘Lies of the American Hero’, Macur is in full swing. We’re introduced to Travis Tygart, a lawyer working for the USADA, who was suspicious of Armstrong’s success and, more significantly, not intimidated by him.

Armstrong was earning phenomenal sums of money: in 2005, for example, Nike handed over $2.5 million in licensing fees. While he remained a superb athlete, his craving for money ensured he wasn’t going to stop cheating.

Ultimately, however, the veneer of lies began to crack because too many of Armstrong’s enemies knew too much. It only took a handful of them to say so and he was finished.

Macur successfully adds a new dimension to the Lance Armstrong story, though we can be sure this will not be the last book published dealing with the exploits of one of sport’s biggest cheats.


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