Andreu: Uncovering the truth about the hospital room is crucial
Reacting to the news that the US government has subpoenaed the Indiana University School of Medicine, seeking to compel it to provide records of Lance Armstrong’s treatments, Betsy Andreu has said that determining the truth about the Texan’s alleged hospital room admission is of fundamental importance.
“It is the crux of everything,” Andreu, a former Armstrong friend and wife of past US Postal Service rider Frankie Andreu, told CyclingTips on Thursday.
“It involves the hospital, it involves the sponsors, you get into Stephanie [McIlvain] testifying before the Grand Jury, the lying and Armstrong’s role in all of this.
“This is a completely nightmare for him. Eleven years ago he was vociferously denying it, calling me a crazy, bitter, fat bitch. Then two years ago, he says he doesn’t remember the hospital room. My story has never changed; his has.
“What this does as well is it shows the depths that they [Armstrong and his associates] went to conceal the doping. Therefore their argument that the US Postal Service should have known about that doping is rendered invalid due to the lengths that Lance went to hide things.”
Andreu has long stated that Armstrong doped during his career, and was one of the most important voices in the truth finally being uncovered. She and her husband stated under oath years ago that during his treatment for testicular cancer, the Texan had told doctors that he had used a range of substances prior to getting the disease.
This is something that Armstrong has always strongly denied, dismissing the Andreus as liars.
Even after he admitted to Oprah Winfrey in January 2013 that he had indeed used banned products for much of his career, Armstrong refused to back up their version of events.
The hospital room claim went on record in October 2005. Armstrong had taken a case against the SCA Insurance company over win bonuses he said were owed to him after he took multiple Tours. SCA denied this, saying that there were real grounds to believe he had used banned substances.
The Andreus and others were subpoenaed and requested to give evidence. Their videotaped testimony was carried out on October 25 2005, and they stated then that they had heard him admitting to using doping products while in the hospital room in 1996.
After being handed a lifetime ban by USADA and the UCI in 2012, Armstrong finally admitted long-term doping while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
He is currently battling to fend off a lawsuit jointly taken by former team-mate Floyd Landis and the US government. The latter has an interest as the US Postal Service sponsored Armstrong’s team for many years and was a government agency.
It alleges fraud was committed as the team was using banned substances despite contractual undertakings to compete within the rules.
If Armstrong is found guilty he and others face penalties of close to $100 million.
Despite his long-term denials of doping, his defence now is based on the argument that it was unreasonable for the US Postal Service not to have known banned substance were being used.
Andreu believes his denials that the hospital room admission took place is just one example of the lengths he went to in order to protect the secret.
“Some die-hard supporters would have me lie under oath and say I should never have told the truth about the hospital room,” she said. “But the mere fact is that when somebody has committed fraud at the level that Lance has committed fraud, what was I supposed to do? Just say, ‘sorry, Uncle Sam, I am not going to answer your questions because he had cancer?’
“His lawyer admitted that he started doping well before the hospital room. That makes me wonder when exactly did he start doping. Was it when he was a teenager? It should be in those records. There are many reasons why he doesn’t want those records revealed.”
The Andreus testified in the SCA case on October 25 2005. On October 27, two days later, the Lance Armstrong Foundation announced it was making a $1.5 million endowment to the Indiana University.
His doctors maintained for many years they believed he was a clean athlete and also denied the admission ever took place.
The US government is hoping that the subpoena will finally prove whether or not that was the case.
Armstrong’s lawyers are fighting this with the argument that his privacy is being invaded.
Andreu rejects this, firstly with her counter that unearthing the truth about what he said in the hospital and what his doctors knew is crucial in showing how he tried to evade detection.
She also says there is no basis for those doctors to not speak honestly.
“They [his lawyers] can scream and cry the about the US Hipaa law all they want,” she said. “What people don’t understand is that the privacy provision wasn’t written into the law until 2003 and only then came into effect in 2004.
“It also doesn’t even matter that we suggested we leave the room. The mere fact that Lance spoke in front of so many people to his doctors means he threw the doctor/patient confidentiality out the window when he did that.”