Organisers of the One Zero Conference in Dublin have announced that special guest Lance Armstrong withdrew on the eve of the conference "citing legal reasons". The former cyclist was scheduled to be interviewed by Ewan MacKenna on Friday, 21 October with tickets to the closing event of the conference ranging between €175-€475. The organisers confirmed that no refunds would be made.
Armstrong is involved in an on-going federal government whistleblower lawsuit, filed by former teammate Floyd Landis in 2010.
"We are extremely disappointed that Armstrong has withdrawn at the last minute from appearing at One Zero. He has let us down, he has let his fans down and his has let down those that wanted to hear him openly discuss his past and the future of sport," said One Zero Conference co-founder Rob Hartnett.
Fellow co-founder Richard Barrett also expressed his disappointment with Armstrong's withdrawal but stated the conference was bigger than the former seven-time Tour de France winner.
"We are obviously disappointed that Armstrong has cancelled less than 24 hours before the conference, however, he is just one of the 34 world class speakers we have lined up to appear tomorrow from the world of sport and technology. Sir. Clive Woodward, Shane Lowry, Jamie Fuller and John Kavanagh are just some of the key notes that will feature alongside many other global industry experts who will share their insights into the future of sport," Barrett said.
Following the announcement of Armstrong's withdrawal, MacKenna spoke Off The Ball's Ger Gilroy, who had Armstrong as a guest earlier this month, describing his interactions with the American in recent weeks.
"For the last few weeks, Lance has suddenly been calling my house in Brazil and it got to the stage where my wife woke me up one morning and said 'Lance Armstrong is on the phone'. It's kind of a situation you'd dream of in the past maybe now you're going 'Oh, Jesus, not again!'", said the Brazil-based MacKenna. "He kind of tried to buddy up. He talked about your interview [with Ger]. I think he was trying to befriend me and make sure the same thing wouldn't happen. I told him I thought he was very ill-prepared for your interview.
"He tried to buddy up over the last couple of weeks. And I played along with it so I was wondering what he was expecting tomorrow if he showed up on stage."
MacKenna went on to describe an anecdote from one of his recent phone calls with Armstrong.
"Like when you'd say 'How are things, Lance?' He'd say 'Oh, I was in the gym and I got talking to some people and my neck was a bit sore so I got a back rub'. And I'm kind of sitting there in my living room thinking 'what is going on here?'", he said.