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Responding to claims made by Lance Armstrong to the BBC in which he said that some of those whom he tried to apologise to had rebuked his efforts, Betsy Andreu has said that she believes his attempts were hollow and meaningless, and that the truth of his stance is reflected in more recent actions.
Speaking to CyclingTips on Monday, Andreu disclosed that her husband, former Armstrong team-mate Frankie Andreu, had been told by a lawyer acting for the Texan that he would be subpoenaed as part of the current Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit.
That case was launched by another former team-mate Floyd Landis in 2010, and joined in early 2013 by the US government. If Armstrong and the other defendants lose they could end up paying a maximum penalty of close to 100 million dollars.
“Frankie was called last week,” Andreu told CyclingTips. “Lance claims he wants to show he is sorry? Well, he does so by having one of his lawyers call Frankie and apprise him he will be getting a subpoena for a deposition for the government’s case against him. Does he want to give us the five figures it will take to hire an attorney?
“Frankie’s response is, ‘I have no idea what the contracts were between Lance and Weisel [Thomas Weisel, former US Postal Service team owner].’ He was never part of the Ferrari doping programme. So our question is, who of the 11 [riders who testified to USADA about the team’s doping] are subpoenaed?”
Andreu is clear on what she believes the action is really about. “We see this as nothing more than a tactic to try to drain us mentally and financially,” she said. “But it is not going to work. Lance obviously hasn’t learned his lesson that I am not a doormat. Is he stupid?”
“I have done everything I said I would do”
In a TV interview released on the BBC website on Monday, Armstrong claimed that he had been harshly treated in being given a lifetime ban and suggested that his suspension should be dropped. Using the theoretical example of doing running events such as charity, he claimed that the USADA-applied suspension prevented him from being able to raise money for worthwhile causes.
He also said that if he was faced with the same decisions again back in 1995, that he would likely dope but would have treated people differently.
In relation to those he had wronged, Armstrong claimed that he had made genuine efforts to build bridges.
“I have done everything I said I would do. Honestly, in the last two years, I’ve made good on everything I said,” he told the BBC.
“We’ve talked about the international commission, I said I’d be the first guy through the door, I did it. For 15 years I was a complete arsehole to a dozen people. I said I would try and make it right with those people, and anybody that gave me an audience, I was there. Flying to Rome to sit with Simeoni, flying to Paris to sit with Bassons, flying to Florida to sit with Emma. Getting on the phone with Andreu and apologising.
“Other people wouldn’t take the call. So whatever I had to do, settling the numerous lawsuits, I did it. I keep doing what I said I was going to do, and I am fine with that, I should be doing that.”
Andreu believes that Lance’s statements are not a fair representation of how things happened.
In relation to an apology, she said that Armstrong initially contacted her on the eve of the Oprah Winfrey television interview he gave two years ago. She told him that his timing was suspect but nevertheless kept in touch with him for three months afterward.
She said she tried to persuade him to talk to Travis Tygart, amongst other things. “Everyone deserves a second chance, but you really have to right your wrongs and make amends to have that second chance,” she said.
She is clear that she felt a meeting was necessary for a real apology to be given.
“It is not a question of ‘he can never say he is sorry enough,’” she said. “Sorry is just a word unless it is acted upon. All I wanted to do was for him to see that after everything he did to me, I was extremely gracious toward him.”
“He is claiming that I didn’t accept his apology. How inaccurate is that?” she said. “I went to fricking Texas to his own hometown [to see him].
“I was going there as part of an anti-doping panel for the University of Texas in Austin, but before I accepted the offer, I asked Lance beforehand if he would be in town as I would be coming to Austin.
“He said yes. Then I even said to him, ‘I want to make sure that you are not going to skedaddle?’
“He said, ‘please, of course I am not.’
USA Today previously printed some of those emails in March 2013. They show a repeated back and forth between the two, with Armstrong stating repeatedly that he would be available to meet with Andreu.
Some of those emails are as follows:
From Andreu, Apr 7, 2013, at 12:18 p.m.: time and place? that is if you’re still game.
From Armstrong, Apr 7, 2013, at 4:56 p.m.: You bet. I’m free all day so whatever is easier for you.
From Andreu, Apr 7, 2013, at 9:09 p.m.: can we agree to not tell the media, please, until and unless we both agree?
From Andreu, Apr 14, 2013, at 7:57 a.m.: next Monday?
From Armstrong, Apr 14, 2013, at 9:09 a.m.: How many times do I need to tell you “yes”?
From Andreu, Apr 14, 2013, at 10:50 a.m.: I didn’t hear back from you and my day is booking up already. Can meet anytime after 10:30. just an fyi darlin’….
Andreu sent CyclingTips a copy of the email she received once she was on the plane to head to Texas.
It shows that he did indeed reverse his promise to her.
“Greg will talk to you, but only face to face”
In addition to her own exchanges, she also disputes Armstrong’s claims that he made genuine efforts to apologise to Greg LeMond. LeMond was himself a former pro rider and a three time winner of the Tour de France. Initially friendly with Armstrong, their relationship went downhill quickly when LeMond expressed concerns about the Texan’s association with the doping doctor Michele Ferrari.
LeMond quickly found himself blacklisted by Armstrong and was eventually sued by Trek, the bicycle company which was a sponsor of Armstrong’s US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. His own bicycle company had been owned by Trek but was dropped as a result of his speaking out
The evening before the Oprah show, Armstrong also reached out to LeMond. The latter subsequently indicated that they could speak about what happened, but not by telephone.
“Lance kept saying that Greg wouldn’t take his apology. However Greg wanted to meet with him face to face, man to man. Without any media, any attorneys, one on one.
“Lance kept saying Greg refused to speak to him, twisting his words around. Kathy [LeMond’s wife] and I were getting sick of his bullshit. So I called him out on it, sent him an email a year and a half ago saying ‘Look, Greg will talk to you, but only face to face.’ I copied Kathy in on it but he never responded.”
That email is below.
Armstrong’s refusal to admit that the account of the hospital admission the Andreus gave under oath isn’t too surprising to Andreu, however frustrating it may be.
“Not once when I spoke to him on the phone about the hospital room did he every say, ‘I can’t remember this happening.’ Never once did he say that. That is important. What he said was, ‘for legal reasons, I can’t speak about it.’ He is still protecting people.
“Now he is claiming that that moment in the hospital room was after multiple surgeries, and he couldn’t understand. Wait a minute. I can send you link after link from media outlets and even in his deposition where he said, ‘it never happened. Never happened. Never happened.’
“His recollection was never in question then. Even on Oprah. He didn’t say he didn’t remember; he said, ‘I’m not going to touch that.’”
Andreu has had her recollection about the hospital room incident – and, thus her word under oath – questioned by Armstrong and his representatives for many years.
She feels that his admitting she told the truth is an important part of him showing he truly wants to make things right. “But that won’t happen because then it calls into question Dr. Craig Nichols, the sponsors…it’s a Pandora’s box for him.”
Is timing of BBC interview relevant?
For over a decade Armstrong has been fighting with the SCA Promotions company over bonuses due to him after he won multiple Tours de France.
SCA initially refused to pay out on the grounds that it believed Armstrong may have doped, thus leading to his testifying under oath plus the Andreus’ own testimony.
However the company was eventually forced to pay out as the original contract didn’t specify anything about those wins needing to be clean.
The company is now trying to reclaim that money paid on the grounds that Armstrong admitted doping and is no longer the official winner of those Tours.
A decision on that case is looming, and Andreu believes this explains the timing of the BBC interview plus his desire to present a certain image.
“This is crazy. What does he always do before a big decision comes out?” she asks.
“This is classic Lance. He has two very big lawsuits on tap. He thinks this interview will benefit him in those cases. ‘See? I’m not such a bad guy after all. I’m doing the right thing.’
“If only it were the truth. He’s a skillful and charming manipulator. He thinks the same tactics which have worked in the past will work again.”