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10 things we learned from Paul Kimmage's interview on Marian

The former cyclist and acclaimed journalist was on the RTE Radio 1 show earlier today.

Kimmage described 2012 as the worst year of his life.
Kimmage described 2012 as the worst year of his life.

1. 2012 was the worst year of his life

“In January I was made redundant. Two weeks later, I got a lawsuit. It was a personal action against me. As a result of closure to the Armstrong case, there was satisfaction. I was getting praise, but I was still out of work.

“I got a phone call from someone I’d never spoken to [who said I was being made redundant], and it was a shock.

“I went from a position where I was bullet proof to walking down to the local unemployment office.”

2. He suffered ‘enormous guilt’ as a result of his own doping

“Mentally I cracked, and I’m glad I did, because it gave me a sense of the power of these drugs.

“I was almost running through the wall, I was so keen to get back on my bike.

“From a performance point of view, it didn’t make any sense. It was a straight race, there were no times involved. I went home that night outside of Grenoble. The guilt of it – saying, ‘what have you done?’ I told Anne, my wife.

“The second time I did it, I didn’t feel any guilt. After three times, I stopped. In a way, that was the end. I felt my career was over, I wasn’t going to achieve anything.”

3. He lost some of his love for cycling when he turned pro

“[My parents] devoted their lives to the four of us. The one thing I wanted to do was be a bike racer. It is, or was, a cinderella sport.

“It’s a very close-knit community. I met Stephen Roche when I was 13.

“I signed up as a pro in 1986. It’s different when it becomes your job. As a kid, you dream about it. It looks glamorous and it is glamorous at times. A bit of the love goes out of it when you’re relying on it for your bills. I’ve been living the life of a monk since I was 15. Every night I’d go to bed at 9.30. I was very dedicated, and it requires that.

“All in all, I wouldn’t change anything – the life experiences have made me what I am.”

4. He’d ‘almost take a gun’ to his kids if they went into cycling

“All I knew as a kid was cycling and comics.

“I don’t want them to be as obsessed and narrow-minded as I was.”

5. His success came from him wanting to please his dad

“I wanted him to be proud of me. So much of my drive was wanting to please my dad.

“My younger brother was much more talented – he was the guy that should’ve made it.”

(Kimmage, pictured in his younger days – INPHO/Billy Stickland)

6. He’s still on bad terms with Stephen Roche

“Stephen was someone that I’d idolised.

“I would challenge you to read Rough Ride and find a bad word about Stephen. It shattered our relationship irreparably.

“Of course he was aware of the doping. It was self interest [denying it].

“I was in Easons signing copies of the book and The Evening Press came in. The front page read: ‘Roche may sue over Late Late’.

“We’ve met several times since. The last time we met was at the Berkley Court in 2000. He wanted to meet me and shake his hand and I didn’t want to shake his hand. I didn’t because I still felt betrayed by him. I’d like him to explain how I betrayed him.”

7. His first Late Late Show appearance gave him sleepless nights

“I naively thought I was going to get applauded. What I did had huge implications for Kelly, Roche and Martin [Earley].

“I went on the Late Late Show. Gay [Byrne] was too good a broadcaster to ignore the elephant in the room [the issue of whether or not Roche or Kelly doped].

“I don’t think I slept trying to figure how I’d answer him. I said ‘it’s not important, this is about my career’. Sean had tested positive twice.

“I wasn’t prepared to hang Kelly out there.”

8. Not being able to write made him feel ‘vulnerable’

“I felt incredibly vulnerable for eight months. Then I got a chance to write for the Daily Mail. There were serious questions about Team Sky.

“The sports editor said he wouldn’t be able to publish [the piece I wrote]. Anne is downstairs saying: ‘Paul, what are you doing?’

“The sports editor read it again and eventually said: ‘You’re right, there are questions, we’re going to run it.’”

9. He was incredibly touched by the defence fund set up by cycling fans to cover his legal costs

“[Looking back on my journalism career initially] I thought, ultimately, it was a waste of time.

“After this defence fund, I realised, ‘you actually did make a difference’.

“That was the most satisfying thing of my entire journalistic career. I was going to be able to defend myself.”

10. He’s a big fan of Russell Brand

“Russell Brand wrote a piece on Thatcher. I thought it was a brilliant piece of writing.”

Listen to the full interview here>

The Paul Kimmage film about his Lance crusade, doping and the UCI that you should see>

Cycling Ireland to hold EGM on McQuaid’s nomination>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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