Ewan MacKenna reveals how Lance Armstrong tried to "buddy up" to him before their cancelled interview

Irish journalist reacts to Lance's decision to pull out of the One Zero Conference

BY Raf Diallo 21:00 Thursday 20 October 2016, 21:00 20 Oct 2016

Picture by: Jordan Strauss / AP/Press Association Images

Ewan MacKenna says he is disappointed that Lance Armstrong has chosen to pull out of their scheduled interview at the One Zero Conference with about 24 hours notice.

The 2012 Irish sports journalist of the year had been due to interview the former cyclist on Friday, only for Armstrong to withdraw 24 hours beforehand citing legal reasons.

Speaking to Off The Ball's Ger Gilroy tonight, Brazil-based Ewan gave an insight into how he planned to conduct the interview with the disgraced former athlete.

"I bought a mirror earlier today and I planned to hand it over to him and I wanted to know what he saw when he looked in the mirror - and more than ever now. Even after withdrawing, I still want to know that," said Ewan.

"As far as I understand it, Lance had signed up for this, so he went back on his word and the cowardice comes out in that he didn't even have the courage to tell the organisers himself. It came from his 'people'. But I suppose Lance has a long history of this and if you play with fire, I guess you get burned."  

He also discussed his interactions with Armstrong in the lead up to an interview that now won't be happening.

"For the last few weeks, Lance has suddenly been calling my house in Brazil and it got to the stage where my wife woke me up one morning and said 'Lance Armstrong is on the phone'. It's kind of a situation you'd dream of in the past maybe now you're going 'Oh, Jesus, not again!'.

"He kind of tried to buddy up. He talked about your interview [with Ger]. I think he was trying to befriend me and make sure the same thing wouldn't happen. I told him I thought he was very ill-prepared for your interview.

"He tried to buddy up over the last couple of weeks. And I played along with it so I was wondering what he was expecting tomorrow if he showed up on stage."

As an example of the small-talk Lance engaged in, Ewan shared this amusing one: "Like when you'd say 'How are things, Lance?' He'd say 'Oh, I was in the gym and I got talking to some people and my neck was a bit sore so I got a back rub'. And I'm kind of sitting there in my living room thinking 'what is going on here?'" 

Ger also spoke to one of the One Zero Conference organisers, Richard Barrett, and he said that "we were aware that the federal case would have a bearing on some of the questions that were answered but we received assurances from his camp that there was nothing else that was off limits".

Barrett spoke of his disappointment at the turn of events but said there would be no refunds.

"For this to come at the 11th hour, it is disappointing," he said, and confirmed that there would no refunds as he added: "Glastonbury is about more than Beyonce, the One Zero Conference is about more than Lance Armstrong. There are no refunds. This conference is bigger than Lance."

Off The Ball

Newsletter

The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week