Must Read: Lance, the lies and me, from David Walsh

David Walsh looks back on his coverage of the Lance Armstrong debacle

Lance, the lies and me — The Sunday Times

It is 3.30 on a grey Monday afternoon, at a Starbucks off the M25 and I look at a phone that is going to ring. It hasn’t stopped. It won’t stop. “About Lance Armstrong and today’s news, are you available to do an interview?” Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the US, Ireland, Holland, Belgium and so many closer to home. No, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no.

Seven requests are from the BBC: Radio 4, Radio 5 live, Radio 2, BBC Radio Foyle, BBC Belfast, Newsnight, World Service. There was a time when the Armstrong Story had black circles on its body from the BBC touching it with a 40ft barge pole. But this is the day, October 22, 2012, that he has been officially declared an outcast, banished from the sport by his own people — cycling’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Its president, Pat McQuaid, said the former seven-time Tour de France winner “has no place in cycling”.

Armstrong himself is to change the profile on his Twitter page, removing the five words “7-time Tour de France winner”. He’s history now, another ageing story of cheating and lying and doping and bullying and sport that wasn’t sport. An icon until the mask was taken away. “The greatest heist sport has ever seen,” says Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

For 13 years, this story has been a central part of my life — from the moment on the road to Saint-Flour in the Auvergne during the 1999 Tour de France that it became clear Armstrong was a fraud.