herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Irish masseuse gets face-to-face Lance apology

DISGRACED cyclist Lance Armstrong has apologised to the Dublin masseuse who exposed his cheating in a face-to-face meeting in a US hotel.

Nearly 10 years after Tallaght sports physio Emma O'Reilly opened up to the world about Armstrong's cheating between 1999 and 2005, the pair met after Armstrong indicated he wanted to tell her he was sorry.

In a foul-mouthed tirade, Armstrong had outrageously labelled O'Reilly an "alcoholic whore" when her revelations brought the curtain down on his spectacular career and exposed cheating in the sport of cycling.

Slur

The two had not seen each other since O'Reilly resigned in 2000 when she could not accept the doping culture that had pervaded the US Postal team.

Armstrong had won the Tour de France a record seven times between 1999 and 2005 before being disqualified, stripped of his medals and banned from competitive cycling for life last year.

And while Armstrong's vile slur had hurt the hard-working Dubliner, O'Reilly was also seeking the face-to-face meeting so she could tell the fallen idol how what he had said had hurt her boyfriend at the time.

"I wasn't here to humiliate him, but I wanted closure," she said.

Armstrong travelled to Orlando from his Texas home for the meeting, while O'Reilly travelled from the UK, where she runs a sports injury clinic in Cheshire.

"I took what you said about me on the chin, but what upset me more was the way it hurt my boyfriend at the time," M O'Reilly told Armstrong, referring to her then partner Mike Carlisle, who was battling multiple sclerosis.

"You're a lad's lad Lance, and if someone had said that about your girlfriend you'd be very upset," she added.

Armstrong said his comments about Emma were "inexcusable".

"It's embarrassing. I was in a conference room giving a legal deposition, and I had no idea it was going to get out. But that doesn't excuse it," he added.

"It was totally humiliating for Emma, and if I saw my son doing that there would be f**king war in our house," he added.

Syringes

Ms O'Reilly said she feared losing everything if Armstrong took a legal case against her. She was named in proceedings in France.

"Mike and I thought we were in danger of losing everything. It terrified us," she said.

O'Reilly has previously spoken of how Armstrong asked her to cross the border to Spain to collect medication for him, and how he asked her to dispose of syringes. She also used make-up to conceal needle marks on his arms before the 1999 Tour de France medical press conference.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ms O'Reilly, said Armstrong never actually used the word "sorry" during their meeting.

"But I wasn't looking for an insincere apology. There are different ways of saying sorry and I felt what he did say was genuine," she added.

"He was a jerk, he was a bully. I wanted closure with him and today I feel I have it. This part, for me, is over."

hnews@herald.ie

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