Ride the Puddles

Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland

Posted by bikezilla on April 29, 2011

Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

The short:

Emma O’Reilly was a soigneur for Lance Armstrong in 1999 when he received a prescription for an ointment to relieve saddle sores. That prescription contained corticosteroid, which Armstrong failed a doping test for.

O’Reilly has stated that that prescription was back-dated and only received AFTER the doping pos.

The long:

In Bill Strickland’s “Lance Armstrong’s Endgame” article, Joe Lindsey contributed the line, “At this point it’s Armstrong’s word against O’Reilly’s. Unless other witnesses corroborate her story, Armstrong wins this one.”

She was angry and responded on Bicycling magazine’s website.

I understand Ms O’Reilly’s anger and frustration. But I think she may have misinterpreted the intent of that line.

I don’t think that Lindsey, or Bill Strickland, were making a judgement that O’Reilly’s word was inherently less valuable than Lance Armstrong’s.

Here is what I think was intended by that line, and how I interpreted it when I first read the story:

The burden of proof generally lies with the accuser, at least to a legal standard. And there’s good reason for that. It helps prevent sending the innocent to prison.

So Armstrong “wins” vs Lindsey not because his word is inherently more valuable than hers, but because she is the accuser and so it is left to her to prove her case vs Armstrong.

So unless someone else finally has the guts to step forward on this specific issue, O’Reilly is left dangling. She is an island, with no companion to help her weather the storm beating against her shores.

However, that IS the legal standard, not the social or commonsense standard. And on those levels there is a growing mass of cycling fans and interested outsiders who are thankful for the stand that O’Reilly took and who appreciate her courage in the face of Armstrong’s malice and cruelty.

On those levels people can and do look at the mass of evidence, real, circumstantial and anecdotal, which includes O’Reilly’s testimony regarding that prescription, and the balance shifts clearly and strongly in O’Reilly’s favor.


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