David Walsh (journalist)

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David Joseph Walsh (born 17 June 1955) is an Irish sports journalist and chief sports writer for the British newspaper The Sunday Times. He is a four-time Irish Sportswriter of the Year and a three-time UK Sportswriter of the Year. Walsh was the key journalist in uncovering the doping program by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service Cycling Team, leading to a lifetime ban from cycling for Armstrong and being stripped of his seven Tour titles.[1]


Walsh began his career as a cub reporter on the Leitrim Observer, where he worked his way up to become editor at 25.[2] He left the paper to join the Dublin-based daily the Irish Press.[2]In 1984, he took a year out to cover cycling sport in Paris.[2] Returning to his Dublin-based paper after that year, he ultimately left in 1987 to work for the Sunday Tribune before moving onto the rival Sunday Independent four years later. Walsh joined The Sunday Times in Ireland in 1996 and began working on the story about doping in professional cycling shortly after moving to England in 1998.[3]

Walsh was the ghost writer for cricketer Kevin Pietersen's autobiography, published in October 2014.[4]

Investigation on doping within cycling[edit]

Referred to as the 'Little Troll' by Lance Armstrong,[5] Walsh along with fellow Irishman and Sunday Times journalist Paul Kimmage, led the way in exposing the systematic doping rife within cycling, in particular the US Postal Team and its leader, Lance Armstrong. Walsh revealed in the Sunday Times in 2001 after a two-year investigation that Armstrong was working with the controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. Under the headline "Champ or Cheat?" The Sunday Times asked in 2001 why a clean rider would work with a dirty doctor.[6]

Walsh's books on Armstrong include L.A. Confidentiel (2003 with Pierre Ballester), in which Armstrong's soigneur Emma O'Reilly revealed that she has taken clandestine trips to pick up and drop off what she concluded were doping products, From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France, and Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong (2012).

Reacting to the confessions Armstrong made in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast on 17 and 18 January 2013, Walsh said that "the interview was fine in as far as it went, but it did not go nearly far enough, and even in as far as it went I was particularly disappointed that he didn't admit what might be called the hospital room admission from 1996".[7] Walsh was also disappointed that Armstrong failed to “name names".[8]

Before Winfrey did the interview, Walsh's Sunday Times bought a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune—Winfrey lives in Chicago—to suggest 10 questions she should ask.[9] The Sunday Times lost a libel suit over Walsh's coverage and Walsh wrote in a postscript to his 10 questions in The Tribune: "The Sunday Times is seeking to recover about $1.5m (million) it claims he got by fraud. He used Britain's draconian libel laws against us".[10]

Referring to the battle against doping in cycling sport on a global scale, Walsh said in January 2013 in an interview with Global Cycling Network (GCN) that "cycling needs new leadership" and that Greg LeMond "could serve as interim UCI president in an effort to pressure Pat McQuaid to leave his post".[11]

On 29 January 2013, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it is "dismayed" by the way cycling's global governing body has handled the fallout from the Lance Armstrong affair and accused it of being "deceitful" and "arrogant". John Fahey, the president of WADA concluded that "UCI has again chosen to ignore its responsibility" to cycling.[12]

In October 2013, it was announced that his book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong was to be adapted into a film entitled The Program, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Chris O'Dowd as Walsh and Ben Foster as Armstrong.[13] The film was released in Autumn 2015.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Ceremony/award Award Work Result
2000 British Press Awards[14] Sports Writer of the Year Sunday Times Won
2003 British Press Awards[14] Won
2012 British Press Awards[15] Journalist of the Year Won
2013 British Press Awards[16] Barclays Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2013 Irish Book Awards[17][18] RTÉ Television Sports Book of the Year Seven Deadly Sins Won
William Hill award[19] William Hill Sports Book of the Year Nominated


In 2017, Walsh gave a character reference for former sports journalist Tom Humphries during his trial for child molestation.[20] In October 2017, Walsh apologised for what he said in a 2012 radio interview about the case but said he would remain friends with Humphries despite his conviction.[21]


  1. ^ Walsh, David (22 October 2012). "Covering Lance Armstrong was a wild ride, but the truth came out". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Jarlath Regan (12 July 2015). "David Walsh". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (95 ed.). SoundCloud. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  3. ^ David Walsh: "It was obvious to me Lance Armstrong was doping", article written by Andrew Pugh, published on 11 October 2012 in the pressgazette.co.uk Archived 21 April 2013 at archive.today
  4. ^ Ronay, Barney (6 October 2014). "KP: The Autobiography – 'more score-settling than an autobiography'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  5. ^ David Walsh on His Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, Posted on 21 December 2012 and updated on 22 December 2012 in huffingtonpost.co.uk
  6. ^ Sun Times reviews Armstrong 'liar and cheat' libel payout, article written by Dominic Ponsford and published on 28 August 2012 in the pressgazette.co.uk Archived 18 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Walsh seems to refer to this question: 1. Did you tell doctors at the Indiana University Hospital on 27 October 1996 that you had taken EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone?. This question was the first of 10 questions the Sunday Times published in a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune in January 2013 before Winfrey did the interview: chicagotribune.com
  8. ^ David Walsh: Oprah Armstrong interview "did not go nearly far enough", article written by Andrew Pugh, published on 18 January 2013 in the pressgazette.co.uk
  9. ^ Ad offers advice to Oprah for Armstrong interview, Tribune report, 12 January 2013, chicagotribune.com
  10. ^ Who gains more, Lance Armstrong or Oprah Winfrey?, article published on 16 January 2013, thespectrum.com/usatoday
  11. ^ Walsh on LeMond: Enduring the vengeance of Armstrong, article written by Neal Rogers and published on 12 January 2013 velonews.competitor.com
  12. ^ WADA 'dismayed' by UCI's handling of Lance Armstrong fallout, article written by Owen Gibson and published on 29 January 2013 guardian.co.uk
  13. ^ Unknown (18 October 2013). "David Walsh's Lance Armstrong book to be made into movie; Chris O'Dowd to play Walsh". Stickybottle. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Press Awards Winners 2000 - 2008". PressAwards.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  15. ^ Sweney, Mark (5 December 2012). "David Walsh named journalist of the year at British Journalism Awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  16. ^ "David Walsh honoured over 13-year fight 'for the very soul of sport'". The Sunday Times. 5 May 2013. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  17. ^ "2013 Winners". Irish Book Awards. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Irish Book Awards 2013 Part 1". YouTube. Archived from the original on 19 December 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  19. ^ Brennan, Rob (27 November 2013). "Reid's Doped wins the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award". IRISH BOOK AWARDS. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  20. ^ "David Walsh defends character reference". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Walsh apologises for 'insensitive and ill-judged' comments on Humphries case". Rte. Retrieved 24 October 2017.

External links[edit]