The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports
Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer, and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood-doping scandals, he seemed above the fray. Then, in January 2013, the legend imploded. He admitted doping during the Tours and, in an interview with Oprah, described his “mythic, perfect story” as “one big lie.” But his admission raised more questions than it answeredbecause he didn’t say who had helped him dope or how he skillfully avoided getting caught.
The Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell broke the news at every turn. In Wheelmen they reveal the broader story of how Armstrong and his supporters used money, power, and cutting-edge science to conquer the world’s most difficult race. Wheelmen introduces U.S. Postal Service Team owner Thom Weisel, who in a brazen power play ousted USA Cycling’s top leadership and gained control of the sport in the United States, ensuring Armstrong’s dominance. Meanwhile, sponsors fought over contracts with Armstrong as the entire sport of cycling began to benefit from the “Lance effect.” What had been a quirky, working-class hobby became the pastime of the Masters of the Universe set.
Wheelmen offers a riveting look at what happens when enigmatic genius breaks loose from the strictures of morality. It reveals the competitiveness and ingenuity that sparked blood-doping as an accepted practice, and shows how the Americans methodically constructed an international operation of spies and revolutionary technology to reach the top. At last exposing the truth about Armstrong and American cycling, Wheelmen paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.
About the Author
Reed Albergotti is a white-collar crime reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the son of a fanatic amateur cyclist who served as the director of cycling competition in the 1984 Olympics. An accomplished bike racer himself, Reed speaks the sport’s odd language.
Vanessa O'Connell, an award-winning reporter at The Wall Street Journal for seventeen years, has covered tobacco, alcohol, guns, insider trading, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She has a knack for exposing the nature of corporate America and how it sometimes manipulates the score in making its money.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters xiii
Chapter 1 True Blue 7
Chapter 2 A New Beginning for American Cycling 18
Chapter 3 A Rage to Win 37
Chapter 4 The First Million 54
Chapter 5 Teamwork 76
Chapter 6 Sit-Ins and Saddle Sores 96
Chapter 7 Lance Armstrong Incorporated 122
Chapter 8 Hematocrits and Hypocrites 135
Chapter 9 Domestic Discord and the Domestique 155
Chapter 10 A New Gear 176
Chapter 11 Adieu and Fuck You 197
Chapter 12 The Comeback (Again) 219
Chapter 13 Betrayals 237
Chapter 14 The Chase 256
Chapter 15 Scorched Earth 272
Chapter 16 Not a Snitch 295
Notes and Sources 323
What People are Saying About This
"Authoritative and overflows with forceful details….Albergotti and O'Connell write like insiders looking out."
—Los Angeles Times
"A chilling tale, and many of the anecdotes Albergotti and O’Connell collected sound like they were actually crafted in a TV-drama writers’ room."
"Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell uncovered plenty more shocking details about the full extent of Armstrong’s drug use as well as the many people and institutions that helped him."
—The Daily Beast
"The most comprehensive book on the subject … a colorful and thorough retelling."
"Captivating . . . a level-headed view of the culture and business of cycling."
"The book is rich in details, facts, and figures."
"Wheelmen is all the truth-and-reconciliation the sport needs."
—The Philadelphia Review of Books
"The only thing ever missing was the truth. In Wheelmen, we get it."
"A detailed account of Armstrong's eventual descent into disgrace."
—The Guardian (UK)
"The definitive book on Armstrong."
—The Montreal Gazette
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
excellent book. not just about Lance but about the conspiracy and how they got away with it. Fascinating stuff.
The Truth Finally Shines Through! As an avid cyclist and former law enforcement professional, I truly enjoyed this book. I have all the Armstrong books as well as Tyler Hamilton's account of his cycling carer. Armstrong has a done a lot of good, the foundation he started has helped countless cancer victims but and thats what people seem to have a problem with BUT he was a cyclist who CHEATED! His arrogance and just plain mean personality hurt a lot of people who were supposed to be his friends and then when they turned on him he was shocked! Albergotti and O'connell did amazing job getting the story out with detail and accuracy. I highly recommend this book, Armstrong was quite a character both on and off the bike but a tragic character all the same. Read this book…well worth it!
The author unravels the life of Lance Armstrong as the evolution of "drugging" in cometitive cycling is narrated. A very interesting and disgusting book on what can happen to a sport.
A remarkable look into Lance Armstrong. He went from world class hero to a fraud surrounded by scandal. This book shows all of that. It is a very interesting read. Highly recommended.
Wow… where public persona meets reality.
After reading Tyler's book and Juliet Mancur's book, I wasn't sure if this would tell me anything new, but it sure did. Fascinating chronicles of Lance from a business and legal standpoint as well as the expected dirt on doping and bullying by America's once-favorite cyclist. Very well written, I didn't want to put it down.
Hard to believe that WSG reporters got so many obvious details wrong. An example? Hamsted won the Giro going UP the Gavia. Bike history 101. Other glaring things are missed and having inside history there are several other mis-characterizations. So I was left with questioning a lot of the books facts. An obvious rush job.