Longtime Lance Armstrong critic Betsy Andreu has said that she was sceptical abut the chances of any meaningful admissions from the former pro as he went under oath on Thursday in videotaped testimony relating to the SCA Promotions case.
The Texas company filed a lawsuit against Armstrong in February of last year, seeking to recoup bonuses paid to him in relation to his Tour de France victories in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
He and his lawyers tried to prevent him from being compelled to give sworn testimony, but both a Texas appeals court and the state’s Supreme Court turned down his request. He was finally heard on Thursday, facing questioning from SCA Promotions’ attorney Jeff Tillotson.
Tillotson confirmed to CyclingTips that the deposition did take place, but said that he was unable to comment further at this point in time as a protective order was in place. He hoped to be able to say more in the days ahead.
Contacted by CyclingTips prior to the end of that deposition, Andreu said that she was sceptical about Armstrong spilling the beans at this point in time.
“I’m not hopeful that he will tell the truth,” she said. “Honestly, I think we should do a poll on how many times he says ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘I don’t recall’, and the person who comes closest gets a ten dollar gift certificate for Dunkin Donuts [laughs]. I seriously don’t think he is going to tell the truth.”
Asked why she believed he would remain guarded, she said that a lot of people stood to lose out if he spoke. “It all goes back to the hospital room. If it [the sworn testimony] goes back to the hospital room, you are going to get the doctors who signed these affidavits for him in trouble.
“In Craig Nichols’ case, he signed an affidavit and said he never asked Lance any questions [about doping as a possible cause of his cancer]. So the doctor can get in trouble. Then you have Stephanie McIlvain, who according to [the book] Wheelmen did not tell the truth under oath. She gets in trouble. Then her company, Lance’s sponsor Oakley is drawn into this – what does the sponsor know?
“It’s a pandora’s box of people who lied to protect Lance. They could all get in trouble.”
SCA Promotions had originally refused to pay out a portion of the bonuses due to Armstrong on the grounds that it believed he may have used banned doping products to win the race.
That refusal led to legal action by Armstrong in a case which ran from 2004 to 2006. He testified in the course of that procedure, swearing under oath that he never used banned products.
However Andreu and her husband, former Armstrong team-mate Frankie Andreu, said in their depositions that the Texan had admitted doping in front of them, McIlvain and others while being treated for cancer. The hospital room admission has been denied ever since by Armstrong.
In the original case SCA Promotions were ultimately forced to hand over the bonuses as there no stipulation existed in the contract to say that the race had to be won clean.
Armstrong was banned for life by the US Anti Doping Agency in 2012. He finally admitted long term doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
SCA’s lawsuit began soon after that, with the company seeking repayment of the bonuses handed out.
Armstrong had been due to go under oath again on June 23rd in a separate Qui Tam case started by former team-mate Floyd Landis and joined by the US Government’s Department of Justice.
If he loses that case, he and others accused of a doping cover-up on the US Postal Service team could be liable to pay damages of more than $96 million.
However his June 23rd deposition has now been put on hold by the Washington federal judge dealing with the case, Robert Wilkins.
Armstrong and his legal team have requested Wilkins to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge has said he expects to rule within a week.