Bookie prize contender Tyler Hamilton reveals all you need to know about the Lance Armstrong scandal and cycling's doping secrets

REVIEW: THE SECRET RACE, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle

Among all the contenders to be named 2012 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, none is more topical than Tyler Hamilton's disturbing expose of the tainted Lance Armstrong era in professional cycling.

The Secret Race, which Hamilton wrote in conjunction with journalist and best-selling author Daniel Coyle, builds on the confession former US Postal team member Hamilton made in front of a grand jury in 2010 during an investigation into the doping allegations that have now led to Armstrong being stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005.

Armstrong dismissed Hamilton's book as an example of a "washed-up cyclist talking trash for cash" but Coyle went to considerable lengths to ensure he was not imparting the one-eyed account of an embittered rival, himself effectively banned for life after failing a drugs test for a second time in 2009, and stripped of his gold medal from the 2004 Olympics only this year.

Coyle had harboured his own suspicions about Armstrong since spending almost a year following the American rider to write the essentially sympathetic biography, Lance Armstrong's War, but was not prepared to accept Hamilton's word alone that the stories of drug use, blood doping, complicity and cover-ups were true.

He recorded more the 200 hours of interviews with Hamilton but also talked to numerous independent sources, including other teammates, to verify and corroborate the claims made.

Hamilton spoke of his appearance before the grand jury as a release, an unburdening of his soul as he shared with the wider world the secrets that had tormented him for much of his career.  Coyle said that when Hamilton agreed to put it all into a book it was akin to being given "a ticket behind the wall of silence" that had allowed the doping culture in cycling to survive for so long.

Hamilton extends the confessional aspect of his court appearance by revealing the years of cheating in every complex detail, describing every way in which he felt the testers were so easily outwitted and the lengths to which the co-conspirators went to ensure their astonishing deception went undetected.

As an explanation, for the benefit of the curious but perhaps less well-informed reader, of why the Lance Armstrong story, and all its ramifications, is so huge, Hamilton's book will make a riveting, jaw-dropping read.  For cycling fans, though, it is likely to induce considerable discomfort, perhaps even dismay, at the questions it inevitably raises again about the sport over the last couple of decades, of how much has been clean, how much a lie.

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs is published by Bantam Books

The Secret Race is among 14 books on the longlist for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year for 2012. A shortlist will be announced on October 26 with the winner due to be revealed on November 26. 

The list in full comprises (click on the links for more information at amazon.co.uk):

  1. That Near Death Thing: Inside the Most Dangerous Race in the World, by Rick Broadbent (Orion)
  2. Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth, by Adharanand Finn (Faber)
  3. Iron War: Dave Scott, Mark Allen, and the Greatest Race Ever Run, by Matt Fitzgerald (Quercus)
  4. The Footballer Who Could Fly, by Duncan Hamilton (Century)
  5. The Secret Race - Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (Bantam Press)
  6. A Weight Off My Mind: My Autobiography, by Richard Hughes, with Lee Mottershead (Racing Post)
  7. Be Careful What You Wish For, by Simon Jordan (Yellow Jersey)
  8. Fibber in the Heat, by Miles Jupp (Ebury Press)
  9. The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final, by Richard Moore (Wisden Sports Writing)
  10. Between the Lines: My Autobiography, by Victoria Pendleton with Donald McRae (HarperSport)
  11. Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton (Particular Books)
  12. A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey, by Chrissie Wellington, with Michael Aylwin (Constable & Robinson)
  13. Jonny: My Autobiography, by Jonny Wilkinson, with Owen Slot (Headline)
  14. Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash, by James Willstrop (Rod Gilmour)

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