News

No refund on Dublin sports conference tickets despite Lance Armstrong pulling out

NewsBy Colm Hayes
Lance Armstrong in Dublin's Phoenix Park in 2009 (Sportsfile)
Lance Armstrong in Dublin's Phoenix Park in 2009 (Sportsfile)

Many ticket holders for the One Zero conference taking place in Dublin today are unhappy that they cannot get a refund on tickets that cost between €175 and €950 after news that Lance Armstrong will not attend the event.

Armstrong has withdrawn from his scheduled appearance at the One Zero conference in Dublin today citing 'legal reasons'.

According to a statement released on behalf of the event organisers, Armstrong, who has been contracted to speak at the conference since August, 'cancelled on the advice of his legal team due to the upcoming Federal court case brought against him on behalf of the US Postal Service'. 

The US Postal Service is Armstrong's former cycling team, where the American won seven consecutive Tour de France titles before being stripped of them all after his extensive doping program was uncovered.

The statement continued: 'The organisers had been acutely aware of the pending Federal legal case, addressing the issue during initial negotiations with Armstrong some months back. Organisers were assured it would not be an issue before agreeing to Armstrong's participation at the conference.'

Despite One Zero's loss of its main draw in Armstrong, co-founder Richard Barrett told Newstalk's Off The Ball last night that no refunds would be available to ticket holders.

Questioned on how tickets were sold on the premise that Armstrong would be present, Mr Barrett stated: "There are no refunds. This conference is bigger than Lance.

"We've been entirely transparent from the start, something that some of our partners have not been.

Mr Barrett added: "Glastonbury is about more than just Beyonce, One Zero is about more than just Lance.

"Just because you feel we sold Lance more than anyone else, no we did not. We have 37 speakers, 36 of whom will be there tomorrow."

However, questioned by Ger Gilroy on Armstrong "obviously [being] your keynote speaker", the event co-founder became defensive.

"We have five keynotes and if you look at the press releases, there are five keynotes."

Like most familiar with the One Zero conference, Gilroy "would've assumed that Lance is the draw".

"I think we all did given that that was the big announcement."

Mr Barrett countered by saying: "I think that's disrespectful to John Kavanagh, I think that's disrespectful to Jamie Fuller."

However, Gilroy disagreed: "I don't think it is.

"I don't think any of them are seven-time Tour de France winners that were involved in the biggest fraud in sports history.

"Most of the emails that I've got from [event co-founder Sport for Business] have been about Lance not holding back and that kind of stuff."

Despite this, Mr Barrett refused to back down on the conference's refund policy:

"Our overall One Zero goal is to provide the best sports show in Irish history. Lance is not central to that, and anyone who thinks he is is unaware of the amount of work we have put into this."

With some tickets costing the best part of €1,000, ticket holders might be entitled to expect a lot of effort was put into the conference.

Among the now-four keynote speakers is Irish golfer Shane Lowry, whose reaction to the Armstrong news suggests he was also under the impression that the former cyclist was the big draw for today's event:

The public reaction to the unavailability of refunds was not a happy one: