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The Secret Race is William Hill Sports Book of the Year for 2012 26/11/2012
Sean Ingle
The whistle-blowing account of life and doping inside Lance Armstrong's team has won the 24th 'bookie prize'
The Secret Race, the 287-page confessional by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle exposing doping, double-dealing and cover-ups at the court of Lance Armstrong, has won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year for 2012.

The book is the third about cycling to have won the award in its 24-year history, after Paul Kimmage's Rough Ride in 1989 and Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike in 2000.

Hamilton, one of Armstrong's lieutenants in three of his Tour de France victories, said he was "truly humbled" to win. "This is really special," he added. "I'm really proud of writing this book but not what's in there. But it's the truth and the truth needed to be told."

The Secret Race details how Hamilton – "the sort of everyman hero sportswriters used to invent in the 1950s: soft-spoken, handsome, polite and tough beyond conventional measure", according to his co-author, Coyle – went from wide-eyed wannabe into systematic doper while at Armstrong's US Postal Service team.

That journey, from testosterone pills to EPO – or "Edgar Allan Poe" to his team-mates – to the Frankenstein practice of blood doping, is retold in intimate detail. Detail that bloodied cycling's code of omerta and Armstrong's reputation; injection by injection, transfusion by transfusion.

"The first interview we were asked: why should we believe you? You haven't told the truth in the past and Lance has always denied it," said Hamilton. "We didn't know what to expect. Yes, I am an ex-liar. I lied and I did it for a long, long time. But the world has flipped upside down and the reaction has been great."

One of the judges John Inverdale said the book had "fundamentally changed cycling", adding: "It's not a prerequisite of a book to change a sport, but this one did".

Hamilton, however, believes cycling needs to go further and set up a truth and reconciliation commission, with a "complete amnesty" for riders who have doped.

"It's a good indicator of how dark this sport was that in the eight years I was part of the Tour de France there were only two riders who spoke out against the dopers – Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni," said Hamilton. "And look how they were treated. If the sport was 80% clean at the time then a lot more people would have spoken out."

Hamilton says that he is still hopeful that Armstrong will admit his part in a dark decade. "I still have hope," he said. "He's obviously going through a process, and typically the first part of the process is denial. I did it. Denial comes first and it lasts for a long time. There are plenty of people out there today who are still denying. It's a long process. There's more to come."

Hamilton and Coyle beat a shortlist comprising Rick Broadbent's account of the world's most dangerous race, Inside the TT, Adharanand Finn's Running with the Kenyans, Simon Jordan's memoir Be Careful What You Wish For, Miles Jupp's Fibber in the Heat, which regales his sojourn in the cricket press corps, A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington, and Shot and a Ghost: A Year in the Brutal World of Professional Squash by James Willstrop.

As well as a £24,000 cheque, the winners also receive a £2,000 William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book and a day at the races.

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