Betsy Andreu speaks about Lance Armstrong’s involvement in the Floyd Landis investigation
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Betsy Andreu speaks about Lance Armstrong’s involvement in the Floyd Landis investigation

by Shane Stokes at 4:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Meets Novitzky, comments on Stephanie McIlvain recordings

Betsy AndreuAs the federal investigation into the US Postal team, Lance Armstrong and various others implicated by Floyd Landis continues to develop and grow, an increasing number of people have been contacted in relation to answering questions or providing evidence.

As mentioned previously on VeloNation on Thursday, one of the latest developments is the news that a recording of a conversation between triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and Oakley rep Stephanie McIlvain has been given to Federal investigators.

This recording contradicts McIlvain’s sworn testimony given in 2005, when she denied hearing Lance Armstrong admit to using performance-enhancing drugs when in conversations to doctors in 1996.

Two people who have said the opposite are Betsy and Frankie Andreu; the latter is a former pro rider with the US Postal Service team of Lance Armstrong, while the former is his wife. Betsy Andreu has become one of Armstrong’s most vocal critics and, depending on your viewpoint about the multiple Tour winner, is either someone with an axe to grind or else somebody who has the courage to speak out for what she believes is correct and fair.

She was recently interviewed by Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky and said that she answered his questions truthfully. She also disclosed that she provided him with recordings left by McIlvain on her cellphone, in which it has been reported that that the latter may have indicated that she had not told the truth in 2005.

VeloNation spoke to Andreu about this, her talks with Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky, the changing nature of the media coverage of the accusations against Armstrong and others, the impact her stance has had on herself and her husband, and her thoughts on the future direction of the investigation.


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VeloNation: Betsy, you were in the news recently when various media sources reported that you had spoken to the Federal agent Jeff Novitzky in relation to the current investigation. Those stories stated that you had given him recordings of messages left on your phone by the Oakley representative Stefanie McIlvain, who was present in the hospital room on the day in 1996 when you and Frankie said Lance Armstrong admitted having using performance enhancing drugs prior to getting cancer.

If the reports in the media are accurate, the recordings on your phone might cast doubt on the testimony she gave in the SCA case, when she contradicted you and Frankie and said she heard no such admissions. Do you think those recordings will be admissible as evidence?

Betsy Andreu: Well, they were voicemails, she called my cell phone and left me messages. So of course they are admissible.

VN: Is it clear what the messages are saying?

BA: Well, let me say this…I saved them for a reason.

VN: For the record, in relation to those reports that you and Frankie have spoken to Jeff Novitzky, is that accurate? If so, will you be called to appear before the Grand Jury?

BA: Yes, we have spoken to him. And it is possible…

VN: There was a recent story in USA Today which reported that Lance Armstrong’s legal team met with the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. A quote by his new PR agent Mark Fabiani said that ‘we will respect the privacy of our discussions with the government, but we can confirm that a meeting occurred yesterday to begin a meaningful dialogue with the government about this matter.’

Do you have any idea what this meeting was about?

BA: Well, given that Bryan Daly is a former prosecutor in Los Angeles, he knows people in the US Attorney's Office who are conducting this investigation. When there is a rapport between the two parties i.e. the investigators and the person being investigated, it is not uncommon for them to meet. Lance is a control freak so it's not a surprise this meeting took place.

VN: Fabiani has said that the investigation is a waste of taxpayers’ money and should be dropped. What is your reaction to that?

BA: Well, like every criminal says, they don’t want a penny spent on stopping the crime that they are committing. So that is what he is going to say.

Frankly, you can’t put a price tag on uncovering fraud, especially when it affects the youth of our society.

Frankie and Betsy Andreu VN: Are you and Frankie satisfied with the way things have gone thus far?

BA: Well, what is crazy to me is that four years ago two American journalists wrote about this: Tom Goldman of NPR and Alan Abrahamson, then of the L.A. Times. Six years ago, one Irish journalist wrote about this…the ‘f**king little troll, David Walsh,” as he was called by Lance. It just seemed that we were all completely ignored. So I find it amusing that stuff that came out years ago is being treated differently now…the truth is actually being listened to, and not ignored as it was before.

VN: So what do you think is the difference between then and now?

BA: I think just the events that have unfolded in cycling. Lance is quoted in Jeremy Whittle’s book ‘Bad Blood – The Secret Life of the Tour de France’ as saying, “I am sick of the myth of widespread doping.” He said that at the start of the 2000 Tour. So you have Lance saying that, but on the other hand, you have his good friend and buddy Pat McQuaid saying that the sport was cleaned up [from before]

But cleaned up from what, if doping was not a problem?

So you have these contradictions. There were a lot of factors which brought it to where it is today. I think we have been given credibility, and are finally being listened to.

VN: The US mainstream media has traditionally been very supportive of Armstrong. It didn’t pay much attention to claims of doping, although there are signs that it is now...

BA: I believe it was [supportive]. I believe it was. I mean, you see America’s sweetheart Roger Clemens. He is huge in baseball, a decorated baseball pitcher. A big, big name, he did great things for children’s charities. But he was indicted, he was arraigned.

I think when you are making millions and millions and millions perpetuating a fraud and in the meantime, you are trying to destroy people who will not go along with it…that is wrong, and I am glad that the government wants to step in and say ‘wait a minute, this deserves to be looked into.’

VN: What sort of impact has this had on yourself and Frankie?

BA: I have been smeared relentlessly by Lance and some writers he counts on to perpetuate the myth and ignore the truth. Because I refuse to be a doormat and let him assassinate my character in the name of "letting it go", it has cost us financially as well as emotionally. Financially because I am a liability for Frankie since I stand up to a powerful figure in cycling. Emotionally because of the outright non-truths and misrepresentations perpetuated by those in the media that Lance counts on, as well as his PR people to whom he pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to smear me/us.

On a personal note, my mom was the only parent who supported us to tell the truth under oath. We have some of the best friends in the world with their unwavering support too.

VN: What factored into your decision to take on someone like Lance Armstrong, and what motivates you to keep going?

BA: We didn’t decide to “take him on”. We decided not to lie for him. I guess that could be construed for “taking him on” especially when you see what the ramifications have been.

As a child, I was always raised that you can’t compromise your integrity, that the truth is always important. That was taught in the home but affirmed going through Catholic school. You have to tell the truth, you have to tell the truth, you have to tell the truth. I think the nuns were really good at saying ‘honesty matters, in every way, shape and form.’

So that is how I was raised. My dad is a businessman and he always said that ‘your reputation is more important than anything else; honesty matters.’

VN: There were reports that Lance asked specifically for Frankie to do the interviews on Versus…what are your thoughts on that?

BA: It was an absolutely calculated decision made by Lance for a specific reason. Let’s just say Mr. Armstrong is not fond of me or the fact that Frankie stood up to him. I’ll leave it at that.

VN: Frankie has given an account again [to investigators] of what happened that day in 1996. Do you think this will affect him, professionally?

BA: Well, the world has just found out that Frankie has talked to Novitzky, so that will be seen… Legally it is against to law to hold it against somebody if they are telling the truth in a federal court case. So we will see what happens.

VN: Has his career has been affected by this? He was dropped by a team - was it Rock Racing….?

BA: No, he quit that team as he didn’t like the direction they were going in. It was actually Toyota United…after NPR and the LA Times wrote that we testified against Lance, Frankie lost his job.

Frankie also had other jobs that people talked to him about working for him, then David Walsh’s book came out and those prospects were gone. It is not popular to be married to me! [laughs] But it sure as hell isn’t boring!

VN: If this enquiry does lead to some big names being found guilty, where do you believe that will leave cycling?

BA: Short-term pain for long-term gain. I think you have to expose the absolute corruption behind it. How is that Lance can get a back-dated prescription for something that happened two weeks prior…it was at the Tour de France in 1999 and he tested positive.

It even starts way before then. How is it possible that a guy has testicular cancer and it is not discovered? He is supposed to be getting drug tested, and yet there is not a spike in his hormone levels [showing up]. Well, there has to have been a spike, because he had cancer raiding through his body. So how come that didn’t show up in any test?

If cyclists would just be vocal about their desire for a clean sport, I think it would change a lot. I really, truly believe that.

VN: There were teams speaking out in the past…

BA: Yes. Nobody should ever be put in the situation where if you want to be a pro athlete, that you have to do unethical and immoral things.

Frankie wasn’t keen on it. You can quote me, ‘Frankie was considered a loser who wouldn’t get on a doping programme.’ It is hard to understand when you are not involved in that world, but I am glad he was a ‘loser’ and refused to get on the programme of Ferrari.

VN: He did however admit taking EPO in one Tour. When you say he was considered a loser when he wouldn’t get on a programme, was it after that Tour in question?

BA: No, he refused to get on a comprehensive doping program. A certain someone told me that Frankie could get results but was too cheap. Frankie declined to take his buddy up on the offer which made him persona non grata as it related to the program. As such, he was not privy to the extensive doping which Floyd described.

When he made it clear to Lance that he didn’t want to see Ferrari, that he wanted nothing to do with Ferrari, and when I flipped out about the hospital room, Lance knew where he stood when it came to doping. Frankie was not one who wanted to partake. He was against it. Frankie eventually gave in but at such a minimal level. I’m not justifying but explaining.

VN: Floyd Landis has obviously been a big part of this investigation. Do you know how he is doing – have you been in contact with him?

BA: Infrequent contact…I think I spoke to him on the phone maybe once, or twice. When I asked him how he was doing, he said ‘I have good days and bad days.’ The words out of his mouth were, ‘if I could say sorry to every single person I hurt, I would.’ He really feels bad about that.

And again, look at Floyd’s upbringing – I knew he wouldn’t be able to live the lie, and I didn’t even know the guy.

VN: So you think he’s better off now than he was before then?

BA: Oh, sure….the lie will eat you alive. Look at what it is going on with Stefanie [McIlvain].

VN: What is your perspective on how this affected the LeMonds over the years?

BA: Well, it’s been tough. His bike company was destroyed and he is painted as a nutcase. Greg is ‘the nutjob’ and I am painted as a ‘fat, homely, jealous b*tch." The sad thing is that it was never questioned – it was the case of, ‘well, Lance said it, so…’ And so what if I’m fat, homely and bitchy? Am I telling the truth? That’s what’s important. Not how fat or ugly I am. I’ll leave the b*tchy part alone. [laughs]

VN: Where do you see things going now? What do you think will happen in the next few weeks and months?

BA: I think it is just going to continue. With Roger Clemens, it was one person…Brian McNamee, who said he doped. With Barry Bonds, there were basically two people…his ex-girlfriend, and his trainer Greg Anderson, who said he doped.

With Lance, there are many, many, many, many people. When you look at the big picture, Frankie and I are but two. Floyd is just another piece of the puzzle. There are so many other people who are going to be involved. What are they going to do – get Lance’s PR firm to smear every person who is telling the truth?

VN: So do you expect them to confirm what you have said?

BA: I think that some will, and if any of the others don’t, it is very, very stupid. Perjury and going to jail for it amounts to something very real. And who wants to go to jail?

VN: There was an interesting statement recently by Armstrong’s PR manager Mark Fabiani…

BA: Yes, it was in the LA Times, I have it here. In their original story, he is quoted as saying [reads] “Lance was required to undergo an active steroid and EPO regimen as part of his post-operative treatment, which may give a reasonable explanation for their having been some discussion of EPO or steroids during her visit to the hospital, having nothing to do with any suggestion of use before he was a cancer patient.”

So, I have a few questions regarding this. Fabiani is stating that I misunderstood the doctors and the discussions that took place. In saying discussions did take place, is he then admitting that Lance lied under oath at the SCA case, when Lance said no doctors were ever present, no such discussions ever took place?

Because this is a complete and clear contradiction…

VN: So, let’s get your point straight: Lance has said that there was no discussion, any mention of performance-enhancing drugs, but Fabiani is saying is that several substances were mentioned, but mentioned as part of a treatment therapy?

BA: Exactly. But what is interesting is that this has now been pulled out of the LA Times’ original article. But it has already been picked up by other publications, so how are they going to squirm out of this one?

Is Fabiani admitting that Lance lied under oath when he says that there were discussions? And, if what Fabiani is saying is true, then there should be medical records, right? Well, how come according to everybody, the medical records show that this never happened, when Fabiani is saying ‘basically, it did, he was just misunderstood’?

VN: In 1996, how many doctors were present in that room?

BA: Two…two men were present. One was definitely a doctor and introduced himself as such. I don’t know who the other guy was and he didn’t really talk. They both had white coats on.

VN: Reading about that day, you testified that you didn’t know who the doctor in question was…

BA: Yes, I don’t know. Craig Nichols can say that it never happened, but he wasn’t in the room! He was not in the room at all. Nichols said in his affidavit that he would not ask an athlete if they ever used performance enhancing drugs, which is a joke. Then five months after that affidavit was signed, he received a 500,000 dollar donation from the Lance Armstrong foundation at the University of Oregon!

VN: Finally, you recently met with Jeff Novitzky. What was he like, and what impression did you get from him?

BA: Well, he didn’t like my Polish jokes…! Seriously, though, I think he has been very respectful, extremely diligent and fair.

A federal agent called to talk to us. Should we have said "No, sounds like you've been drinking sour milk?" We didn't demand he contact our attorney for a reason: we have nothing to hide. The truth is rather simple; it's the consequence of not telling the truth that might bite you in the ass."

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