For many local media outlets, the highlight of last night’s Amgen Tour of California press conference was Sunday Times sports writer Paul Kimmage when he pointedly asked Lance Armstrong why he admires cyclists who, in Kimmage’s opinion, are proven, unrepentant dopers. Armstrong, visibly angry about Paul Kimmage’s infamous “the cancer is back speech” last September, gave his “you don’t deserve the seat you sit in” response.
Beyond the negative article that Armstrong mentioned in his answer to Kimmage, there’s a long history about cycling, doping, and Paul Kimmage.
Paul Kimmage and his brothers followed their dad — Ireland’s 1962 road cycling champ — into racing. In 1990, Kimmage published the book Rough Ride, an autobiographical tell-all book about the world of professional cycling that included claims of widespread drug use within the peloton. His book was among the first to reveal doping among professional cyclists. He was condemned in the cycling world for breaking their code of silence and having “spat in the soup.” His countrymen vilified Kimmage for slurring Irish cycling heroes Stephen Roche and Seán Kelly.
Kimmage has expressed admiration to cyclists like David Millar who owned up to his doping and has apparently cleaned up his act. To cyclists like Floyd Landis, though, he has nothing but scorn. Kimmage is also critical of his fellow sports journalists who “are frightened to ask the searching questions.” Many cyclists — including Armstrong — refuse interview requests from Kimmage specifically because of his probing questions about drug use.
I haven’t read Rough Ride yet, but I’ll put this on my to-read book. If you’ve read it let me know what you thought of it.
Buy Rough Ride here.