Ewan MacKenna reveals what he was going to ask Lance Armstrong at their interview set for the Zero One conference

Armstrong pulled out of the conference appearance in Dublin on Thursday evening

Ewan MacKenna reveals what he was going to ask Lance Armstrong at their interview set for the Zero One conference

Picture by: Jordan Strauss / AP/Press Association Images

Ewan MacKenna spoke on Off The Ball about his disappointment at being unable to interview Lance Armstrong earlier this week.

Speaking to Ger Gilroy he said: "I must say when I was sitting back in the hotel last night doing some work and 'disappointment' was the biggest feeling because there was an awful lot I wanted to ask him about and while I don't agree with what he has done, how he has acted - he's one of the most fascinating sportspeople out there.

"Even when it was announced he was coming to the conference, what I've found is, it's like he's toxic. Anything he touches, it becomes quite nasty. And I found that in the build-up, who was going to do the interview, the cost of the tickets then and despite everything he kind of transcends it because he's such an interesting character and I suppose we're drawn to darkness.

"And what I really wanted to get inside was how his mind works, it really really interests me. And there was a chance to do that and it was taken away."

"I was only going to have an hour to interview him at the conference and he's the kind of guy you could sit down with for a week and you wouldn't get to the bottom of a lot of stuff. I mean there were specifics I wanted to press him on.  Things like 'Did he underestimate Floyd Landis?', which for a bright guy is a bizarre thing to do and got him in a lot of trouble."

"I wanted to press him on '09 and '10, the comeback. His relationship with Pat McQuaid [and] Verbruggen. Why he wasn't in the testing pool three months before the Tour of Australia - was allowed ride it by Pat McQuaid for big money and then he did the Tour of Ireland, stuff like that."

"I wanted to ask him why he shafted a lot of people and why he continues to, in a way. Like the Andreassis. 

"Beyond that, I wanted to delve into what makes him tick. And how he lives with the weight of being the most disliked sportsman on the planet. Because in America, they have terms like, they'll say, the 'most hated team' like the old Detroit Pistons, the old Oakland Raiders. It's kind of a term of endearment. Whereas with him it is literally, he is seen as odiuos by a lot of people. He's seen as untouchable. And to go through life with that weight on your shoulders - there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of remorse."

"He's shafted a lot of people over the years in big, big ways. This [the conference] was a tiny, tiny microcosm of that. But it was the fact that he did it, for the organisers, whatever you thought about the price of tickets - to do it the day before it in that manner. He didn't have the courage to do it himself. The people around him did it. There was no apology offered and that was like a microcosm of what he's done throughout his life and he doesn't seemed to have changed," MacKenna added. 

Before taking his place on the panel today, MacKenna was asked how he felt about Armstrong and said: "I was thinking about it on the way in here and the only thing I feel for Lance Armstrong, for me he has bypassed the line of going too far with things, I just feel pity for the guy. I really feel sorry for the guy. 

Dr. Julian Dalby was then asked his thoughts on the disgraced American: "I don't really understand why he has been vilified so much. He didn't kill anybody, he's not the worst character," he said. 

"I think he was the scapegoat. There was a lot that was put on him. I think partly because he rose so high. The higher you go, the further you have to fall. 

"I've no problem with the doping, oddly enough. He wasn't the only one. One thing I will say is...he still has the seven yellow jerseys hanging up in his house, he still considers himself a champion. And he would say "well everyone else was doping.

"I would say he's not champion because everyone else might have been doping but no-one else had the links he had to the governance of cycling which makes doping an awful lot easier."  

"Look, doping, I think it's almost human nature to cheat in sport or not. It's very complex and it's not black and white in terms of doping. My problem is how he treated people. I think that's the problem with Lance. A lot of people doped but a lot of people didn't shaft friends, didn't rat them out, didn't ruin lives on the back of it," he concluded.

You can listen to the whole discussion here: