For eight years, the Tour de France, arguably the world’s most demanding athletic competition, was ruled by two men: Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. On the surface, they were feature players in one of the great sporting stories of the age–American riders overcoming tremendous odds to dominate a sport that held little previous interest for their countrymen. But is this a true story, or is there a darker version of the truth, one that sadly reflects the realities of sports in the twenty-first century? Landis’s title is now in jeopardy because drug tests revealing that his testosterone levels were eleven times those of a normal athlete strongly suggest that he used banned substances, and for years similar allegations have swirled around Armstrong.
Now internationally acclaimed award-winning journalist David Walsh gives an explosive account of the shadow side of professional sports. In this electrifying, controversial, and scrupulously documented exposé, Walsh explores the many facets of the cyclist doping scandals in the United States and abroad. He examines how performance-enhancing drugs can infiltrate a premier sports event–and why athletes succumb to the pressure to use them. In researching this book, Walsh conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with key figures in international cycling, doctors, and other insiders, including Emma O’Reilly, Armstrong’s longtime massage therapist; former U.S. Postal Service cycling team doctor Prentice Steffen; cycling legend Greg LeMond; and former teammates of both Landis and Armstrong.
Central to the story is Lance Armstrong’s relentless, all-consuming drive to be the best. Also essential to this narrative is Floyd Landis, the unassuming, sympathetic hero who was the first winner of the Tour de France after Lance–and the first ever to face the threat of having his title revoked. More than anything else, this book will ignite anew the debate about whether there is room in the current sports culture for athletes who compete honestly, whether sports can be saved from a scandal as widespread as this, and what changes will have to be made.
With a compelling narrative and revelations that will stun, enlighten, and haunt readers, David Walsh addresses numerous questions that arise in that crucial space where sports meet the larger American culture.