Coyle: Going into the book, I hadn’t hoped or planned on spending much time on the doping question. Doping is part of the shadow-side of bike racing or any sport—facts are often murky, contentious, hard-to-prove, and stories tend to end up in a courtroom or a lab. Plus, I had the sense that I probably wouldn’t find anything new. As a relative outsider to the sport, I thought I knew the routine. People—sneaky French journalists, it seemed—accuse Armstrong, Armstrong denies, there’s no proof. It didn’t exactly increase my interest to know that Armstrong had a well-practiced habit of suing people who questioned his integrity on the subject.
As it turned out, doping was a subplot of the bike-racing season—there was David Walsh’s book, Tyler Hamilton’s shocking positive test result, Armstrong trainer Dr. Michele Ferrari’s guilty verdict, and, as the season ended, a flurry of lawsuits between Armstrong and his former personal assistant, Mike Anderson. But to me, these weren’t just stories—they were people whom I’d gotten to know during the season, people whom I found utterly fascinating. And after two years of research, all I can say for certain is this: the doping issue has been around Armstrong and cycling for a long time, and it’s probably never going to disappear. I found that, as a relative outsider to the sport, there was a lot about cycling that I didn’t know—not all of it pretty. In my book, I try to share that information so that people can come to their own decision.