The Irish whistleblower central to the downfall of Lance Armstrong has written a new book with a foreword by none other than the disgraced former cycling professional himself.
Dubliner Emma O’Reilly, 44, was a soigneur (assistant) on the US Postal cycling team Armstrong represented in winning the first six of his seven Tour de France titles.
Her job was to feed him, massage him and take care of his every need so he could focus on cycling.
Ms O’Reilly, who trained as an electrician, then as a sports masseuse, worked for the Irish cycling team prior to landing a job with US Postal.
She was the first person to break the silence about Armstrong’s doping and his grooming of other athletes to take drugs.
She told of how she used make-up to cover up needle marks on his arm and travelled to Spain to collect performance-enhancing substances on his behalf.
She also revealed that she suggested to customs officials in Dublin that a boat sailing into the city with team cars for the start of the Tour de France in 1998 would not need to be checked by them.
The Festina doping affair broke just days later when an official from that team was caught with a car full of performance-enhancing drugs as he was about to bring it from mainland Europe to Dublin for the start of the race.
When she first spoke up about the cheating culture endemic in professional cycling, Armstrong branded her a liar, whore and alcoholic but last year, he finally admitted the truth in an interview with Oprah Winfrey and later apologised to Ms O’Reilly in person.
Her book, The Race to Truth: Blowing the whistle on Lance Armstrong and cycling’s doping culture, is published by Random House and is due out this week.
Armstrong’s foreword reflects Ms O’Reilly’s belief that he should not take the sole blame for a problem that was endemic in professional cycling long before he arrived on the scene.
Ms O’Reilly now runs a sports injury clinic in Cheshire in England.
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