Lance Armstrong is in town.

It has been said he wants to apologise to his old teammate Steve Swart, while apparently also doing a little business. So why the fanfare?

Why not quietly knock on Swart's door and tell him he regrets branding him a liar with mental health issues? Why the social media posts inviting all and sundry to cycle with him. Like the Pied Piper. Like some prodigal son?

Swart, a former rider on Armstrong's team, was among the first people to break the code of silence around the drug programme and implicate Armstrong in allegations of doping.


Armstrong was the best doper of a generation, the most ruthless person in the peloton.

Deep pockets and the cancer shield made both those behaviours all the more potent. It's pointless to rate him as an athlete because drugs make that an exercise in futility.

Dopers through the decades are a dime a dozen. What set Armstrong apart was his brazenness, his appetite for destroying anyone who crossed him. And, yes, many people beyond Armstrong banked the deceit.

I think it is healthy that truth finally won.

There should, of course, always be the prospect of redemption, and I hope Armstrong comes out of it a wiser, better man. I hope his remorse is genuine, that there is no hidden agenda, that he now draws a moral line in the sand that was lacking in his competitive life. If that is so, I wish him well.

I hope he enjoys a few bike rides, a round of golf, and makes the most of what Auckland has to offer.

But go on a bike ride along the waterfront with him? No thanks. I'd rather ride with Charly Mottet. Charly who?

It is a sad reality that so few know of the Frenchman. He's a guy who decided to draw a line.


During his career as a professional cyclist, Mottet had a reputation within the peloton as being a rider who never used performance-enhancing drugs. Not just in the peloton, that was what Willy Voet, the man whose job it was to dope Mottet's team, said too.

In his confessional book, Breaking the Chain, Voet described how he and other riders would laugh at Mottet and teammate Gilles Delion and their herbal teas.

Yet Mottet placed fourth in the Tour de France early in the EPO blood-doping era.

"Who knows if he might not have won the Tour?," wrote Voet. "It really has to be said that Charly simply did not have the career that he merited."

I was disappointed to read that Cameron Brown had taken his son, a budding athlete, to meet Armstrong.

Brown has earned respect through his demeanour as well as a long career as one of the best Ironman athletes in the world. But I couldn't help but wonder what he said to his son. "Here's a man who lied, cheated, bullied and trampled over people to reach and stay at the top. Isn't he cool?"


Brown rightly notes that you have to forgive in the end.

"You can talk about the past for as long as you want but history is history," he said.

But history's lessons should not be forgotten. And remorse should be genuine.

I wonder, had it been Mottet who was visiting, what Brown junior might have learned. That there are more important things in life than winning at any cost?

Phil Taylor studied doping in sport on a fellowship to Cambridge University. In 1997 Steve Swart told him about doping with Lance Armstrong.