Lewes Wanderers Chairman Chris Martin has had his say about the disgraced cycling legend Lance Armstrong.
Speaking to Neil Pringle on BBC Sussex’s Breakfast Show last Friday – hours after Armstrong’s famed interview with Oprah Winfrey aired simultaneously across the USA and UK – Martin said: “They obviously got straight down to the nuts and bolts, with him admitting what he’s been accused of for so long. Firstly I was surprised that that was done very straight-forwardly. I thought it was going to be much more wrapped up and shrouded in maybes and what-have-you. But he did come out and the questions, he answered them, and said that he had cheated: he’d taken the drugs and done this throughout his professional career.
“He kept saying that he didn’t want to mention names and bring down people – and I thought he actually took the responsibility. I mean, there is obviously an army of people who he could name and I’m sure there’s going to be horrible litigation coming up and this will run on in the press, in a very destructive way for a sport that I’m very passionate about.
“And I suspect it will take a long time before it goes away.”
Asked what he felt about Lance Armstrong ‘the man’, he replied: “This sounds perverse and I know a lot of my colleagues in the club will probably shoot me! But I actually felt for him: he’s a 41-year-old chap, he was a super-alpha male – even in a world of alpha males he was a king – and he’s got to find his way forward in his life.
“I never really had much time for him as a professional but I think that was because he was a brash Texan and, as a southern Englishman, I found that rather unappealing. But I always respected him, which again sounds perverse in retrospect.
“People are saying this is choreographed, this is Oprah building her empire, this is him trying to rebuild and look for a way forward. And yes, that’s all true, he’s got to do something.
“But we’ve got to find a way forward for our sport so that this isn’t what is talked about.” Asked how he could feel sympathy for a self-confessed ‘cheat and bully’ he said: “I’ve worked in the field with people who have had substance misuse lifestyles and fallen from grace, and I see it as a similar thing. The pressures for these young men going into a sport to achieve success, and you know you go out of the door if you don’t make it. The drugs, the doctors, everything, I assume they were there, and Lance obviously took it to an extreme – and had power. And I suspect it self-perpetuates. You start with something, just like drinking I suppose, and before you know it you’ve got to where he got. And then there’s no way back.”