Moral of the Story

The show tries to do a prequel, so to speak, trying to go back to the moment when Armstrong chose to be corrupted, but talking to the protagonist is not really the best way to reconstruct the scene of the crime. Interviewing a bystander often elicits a clearer picture. Like an interview of David Walsh by the London radio station talkSPORT (clips available on YouTube and elsewhere), in which the veteran sports journalist described Armstrong peeling away from the pack on mountain roads in the 1999 Tour de France. "The journalists around me were laughing," he recalled, because it was impossible - Armstrong had just recovered from metastatic cancer.

But when they called in the story to their editorial offices, they were apparently told not to proceed on the doping angle because there was no proof. In fact, their editors saw it as a great inspirational story about a cancer survivor who just had to win. And thus the media became complicit in authoring the Armstrong legend.

Walsh is an indefatigable Armstrong hunter and in December, as the investigation he helped to keep alive headed for a predictable end, he was named Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards. But the story he had tracked for 13 years was finally put to bed by a talk show host. Ah, well…

pratik.kanjilal@expressindia.com

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