O'Reilly reveals details of Armstrong drug-taking
CYCLING:IRISH WOMAN Emma O’Reilly has revealed that while she was aware of the system of drug taking within Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Services cycling team she distanced herself from it before her association with the American and his manager ended acrimoniously in 2000.
The now 42-year-old Dubliner worked as a massage therapist and joined the team as a freelance employee in 1996. She had previously worked for the Irish national cycling team in a voluntary capacity from 1989 to 1993.
In 1999 after three seasons with the Armstrong’s team she was promoted to the position of “head soigneur”, a post that involved coordinating assistance for the riders when they were competing in every area from first aid to massages, meals and hotel bookings.
She said she made it clear to team manager Johan Bruyneel that she would only take the post if she did not have to play a part in doping, though concedes to transporting testosterone once and “pills” for Lance Armstrong once which she believed were performance enhancing.
In a affidavit to the United States Anti Doping Agency (Usada) investigation into Armstrong, O’Reilly paints a picture of rampant drug taking within the team, where riders stored EPO in thermos flasks on team buses to keep them cool and removed pictures from walls in hotel rooms to hang the bags for intravenous drips they were taking.
She also said she overheard Armstrong and key people on the US Postal Team organising the back dating of a prescription for a steroid cream for saddle sores as an excuse for Armstrong testing positive for corticosteroids during the 1999 Tour de France.
She added in her affidavit: “Lance acknowledged that I had been present for a significant moment in his cycling career when he told me: ‘Now Emma, you know enough to bring me down’. A few days later Lance won his first Tour de France.”
O’Reilly stopped working closely with Armstrong in 1999, just the second year of his comeback from cancer. However, she remained with the team for one more year.
She said when she left in 2000 and gave a media interview, Armstrong “tried to discredit me by referring to me as a prostitute and alcoholic”. She said while Armstrong tried to sue her, the actions were settled or dropped in 2006.
The full details of her time with the team and her affidavit to Usada have not emerged before now. O’Reilly said she transported drugs across an international border for George Hincapie, former US national champion. She took testosterone for him from Ghent in Belgium to Girona in Spain in “May or June 1998”.
Hincapie also swore an affidavit to Usada in which he incriminated himself and Armstrong. He was one of a number of riders banned from competition for six months this week arising from his admission. O’Reilly’s affidavit and those of other witnesses were published by Usada this week in the Armstrong file sent to the cycling’s world governing body the UCI.