'De ook aanwezige David Walsh wordt helemaal als een paria behandeld' schreef Marc Belinfante eerder over zijn ontmoeting met Lance Armstrong. En met David Walsh. Acht jaar later zit Marc Belinfante in de huiskamer van David Walsh en kijkt samen met de man die alles aan het rollen bracht naar Amstrong's bekentenis. In onderstaand artikel uit de Sunday Times blikt David Walsh terug. Hieronder een deel van het artikel:
It is 2.01am on Friday. I am watching the television at home as Oprah Winfrey begins her interview with Armstrong. Her introduction is riveting. She wants a one-word answer, yes or no, to her first set of questions. He nods, knowing there is a train approaching and he is on the tracks.
Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance? "Yes."
Was one of those banned substances EPO (the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin)? "Yes."
Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions? "Yes."
In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope? "Yes."
The power of Oprah is that, when she asks these questions, it is like the story just broke. Lance Armstrong doped. Wow!
I am watching with Marc Belinfante, a Dutch television reporter. I have not seen him for eight years, but he is the right person to be with just now. Like me, Marc was at the news conference Armstrong gave in Liege in Belgium at the start of the 2004 Tour de France.
I had co-authored a book, LA Confidentiel, that contained many allegations of doping against Armstrong. Almost everyone in the room knew that, but who was going to ask him about them? The five-time Tour winner was in his pomp and he set the yes/no rules. Yes, I like the question; no, I do not.
Doping questions, he did not like. So there was only one at the beginning and it came coated in enough sugar to use up the daily allowance of all 300 journalists present. "Have the controversial allegations upset your preparation, Lance?" He takes one short sentence to dismiss the new book. "Extraordinary accusations must be followed by extraordinary proof." Six follow-up questions perish in that moment.
But Marc did not get it. He was a news reporter and he had shown up in the hope that, because of publication of the book, there might be something for him. Yet none of the sports reporters was asking the right question. Journalists, where were the journalists? So he asked Armstrong himself about the allegations. "No comment," the champion snarled.
Marc waited for another chance. "What about Stephen Swart's evidence?"
"Next question," said Armstrong, and the Dutch journalist began to understand. It is different in the world of Lance.
I was sitting near the front, unable to ask a question because Armstrong simply ignored me.
After the show ended, I met Marc, who still wanted to figure out why so many danced to the Armstrong beat. I liked him because he was not afraid to be seen with the "little f . . king troll".
That weekend in Liege, Marc Belinfante was a godsend.
Now, at 3.30am, after the first part of the Oprah interview is over, we drink tea in the kitchen of my Cambridgeshire home and talk Lance.
THE SUNDAY TIMES
Bekijk hier de reportage van Marc Belinfante uit 2004: