The news that Lance Armstrong will be one of the headline speakers at a sports conference in Dublin next month raised a lot of eyebrows.
Organisers of the inaugural One Zero sports conference promise it will be a “‘no-holds barred’ interview live on stage”, but many commentators questioned why he was being invited at all.
Armstrong is a legend of cycling but was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories in 2012 after a protracted doping scandal.
Some feel that even inviting him to speak is out of order, given his history of doping and the controversy he brought to his sport.
One Zero co-founder Richard Barrett has addressed those concerns in an article giving an insight into the rationale behind their decision to invite him.
Here is Richard Barrett's article in full.
Lance Armstrong cheated, lied, and took performance-enhancing drugs.
Lance Armstrong won seven consecutive Tours de France.
Lance Armstrong caused irreparable suffering to countless people, a number of whom were Irish.
Lance Armstrong founded an organisation that helped to improve the suffering of millions of cancer sufferers.
Lance Armstrong is no saint, but then again none of us are.
On Tuesday September 13th, we proudly announced Lance Armstrong as one of our keynote speakers for the One Zero Conference. As expected, the reaction was widespread, animated, and in some cases, even vitriolic. While the politically correct version of me would like to say that I was disappointed by the reaction that Lance provoked, that is not the case.
One Zero, although still in its infancy, seeks to provoke discussion through its delivery of top quality, invigorating and energising content. This isn’t a sales pitch, there’s no point wasting your time.
When we decided to announce Lance Armstrong as our keynote speaker, and in doing so facilitate his first no-holds-barred interview in Europe since Oprah, we knew the world would take notice.
I won’t be wearing a yellow jersey, nor will I be asking Lance to sign my bike on October 21st. Heck, I don’t even know if I will shake his hand. However, what is certain is that those people in the RDS that night will experience first-hand 2016’s very own Frost-Nixon.
I do not support Lance, nor do I oppose Lance, for me personally it is all about the story.
Anyone can provide content, few can provide moments that transcend sport. Lance cheated and cheated, and lied and lied, and then cheated and lied again. But, he wasn’t the only one.
One person who knows this all too well is Jaimie Fuller, CEO of Skins, a company that sued the UCI for their apparent “inability to run a clean sport“. Jaimie once labelled Armstrong a “serial” cheat who led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
Jaimie will be sharing a stage with Lance and giving his own talk on corruption and ethics in sport at One Zero, an issue that many other conferences would avoid.
One Zero is committed to asking tough questions on sport and the path it is headed on; our world-class line-up of speakers are united with us in that vision. We live in an era of open debate and our belief is that it is important to talk, probe, share knowledge and learn.
A lot remained unanswered from the supposed seminal interview between Oprah and Lance. Those questions will be answered on October 21st in Dublin.
We have not yet announced the identity of Lance’s interviewer, but when it comes to making this the best piece of content of the year, there are only one or two names that can truly make this a reality.
Judge us not by our methods, but by what we seek to accomplish.
This is just the opening chapter on the story of One Zero, a little ol’ start-up founded in Dublin by four Irish sporting enthusiasts. Support us or shun us, we know it will be hard to ignore us.
This story first appeared in Pundit Arena, used with permission.
What do you think? Have Barrett’s comments persuaded you that it is a good idea?