Walsh ponders Armstrong's return

The man who co-authored L. A. Confidentiel : Les secrets de Lance Armstrong, a book in which he...

The man who co-authored L. A. Confidentiel : Les secrets de Lance Armstrong, a book in which he published circumstantial evidence alleging doping by Lance Armstrong, is looking forward to Armstrong's return to professional road cycling.

After hearing Armstrong's comeback news, Walsh said, "Overall I'm pleased. It will let us decide on what his lasting legacy will truly be.

"In a rather curious way I’m not at all surprised that Lance has decided to come back," said Walsh to Cyclingnews. "I remember vividly that during his string of Tour wins he said he wouldn't care about what people thought about him once he'd retired from the sport. 'I'll be sitting on a beach drinking beers,' was his response to some of the questions regarding how people viewed him.

"For me, that didn't really wash," said Walsh, "I was sure that he would care what we [press] and the public would think.

"Of course many people see him for a great champion and his work for cancer awareness is very laudable," said Walsh. "However there are people, and I'd say it's a growing amount, especially in the US, that don't see him like that.

"They look at the allegations that L'Equipe placed on him and I'm sure that Lance has picked up on that swell of opinion. His feeling might be that he didn't exist the sport in the way that he should have and that by coming back he can perhaps exit cycling in a better light," said Walsh.

"The sport has changed since he was riding," he said, referring to the stricter attitudes against doping and subsequent more rigorous anti-doping testing. "So whether or not his comeback is good for cycling is a very good question. We all thought that this year's Tour was a much cleaner race overall.

"Will Lance's arrival bring back some of the doubt? I don't know yet. Cycling is certainly cleaner now, so perhaps Lance feels that he can come back into the sport and compete on a similar level and in a clean way."

Such a comeback wouldn't ease Walsh's suspicions about how Armstrong accomplished his past glory. "However what this comeback won't do is change the perceptions that I have and others have of the achievements he made during that run from 1999 to 2005."

Nonetheless, he looks forward to seeing how Armstrong will fare in the world of cycling that's evolved since his retirement in 2005. "We may be able to see if after all if he was the greatest sportsman of all time. I can imagine that he can win the Tour though. That's going to be the biggest motivation for him."

Walsh's first book was originally published in 2004 in the Sunday Times, which Armstrong later successfully sued for libel. More recently, Walsh wrote, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France.

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