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25 June 2006

Lance’s drug use

I’m not exactly a big fan of Lance Armstrong, but after his wins, I had hoped that he somehow wasn’t as dirty as the rest of the sport of cycling.

According to a report on NPR, that hope may be too much. Frankie and Betsy Andreu, former friends of Armstrong’s (and Frankie’s a cycling commentator for OLN), testified that they heard Armstrong admit to use of banned substances:

According to sworn testimony reviewed by NPR, two witnesses heard Armstrong openly acknowldege in 1996 that had used several performance enhancing drugs. What you are about to hear are the details from that testimony and from one witnesses who says she was there when Lance Armstrong said he used “growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.” Armstrong is angrily denying that the incident happened….

In her sworn testimony in that case, Betsy Andreu recounts what happened after, she says, two doctors, wearing white coats and name tags, walked into the hospital room. Andreu never identified the doctors, but says in her testimony they were not Armstrong’s two primary oncologists, or his brain surgeon.

In her deposition, Betsy Andreu testified:

I said, I think we should leave to give you your privacy. I said that to Lance. And Lance said, that’s OK. You can stay. And I turned to Frankie and I said, I think we should leave. And Frankie said, no, Lance said it’s OK. We can stay. And so the doctor asked him a few questions, not many, and then one of the questions he asked was… have you ever used any performance-enhancing drugs? And Lance said yes. And the doctor asked, what were they? And Lance said, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.

When asked last week about her testimony, Betsy Andreu said, “I answered every question truthfully and honestly. It is 100 percent truthful.”

…But according to Andreu’s testimony, Armstrong came back to the issue last year when he called Frankie Andreu just a few days before Andreu was deposed. In his deposition, Frankie Andreu is asked “is it your testimony that Mr. Armstrong called you and said it was his recollection, that the hospital incident never took place or didn’t happen the way you’ve recollected?” Andreu answers, “Yes. Correct.”

The deposition continues:

QUESTION: What did you say to him when he said that?

ANDREU: I remained quiet.

QUESTION: Did you consider it odd that he was telling you about the hospital incident?

Andreu interrupts and says, “I considered it odd that he even called me, because I hadn’t spoken with Lance in probably two and a half years.”

And I can’t say that there seems a reason that NPR could find for the Andreus to do this, unless it seemed like the truth prevailed.

Armstrong is asked if he can help explain why Betsy Andreu would make up a story about the hospital room. Armstrong says he has no idea, other than “she hates me.”

“Lance and I used to be good friends,” Betsy Andreu told NPR. “I would go to his house and I would cook for him; I would talk to him on the phone about baby questions; I used to go out to dinner with Frankie and Lance and Kristin, often.” Kristin was Armstrong’s first wife. Betsy Andreu acknowledges that over the years, her friendship with Lance Armstrong soured. But she says that doesn’t mean she would do something, in her words, so reprehensible as make up a story about the hospital room. “I’m sorry that it upsets him so much that I refuse to lie under oath. I was always going to tell the truth,” she said.

I know that people often want to take down a champion, but I don’t see an obvious motive for the Andreus, especially considering how he was a big booster of Lance as a commentator.

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2 Responses to “Lance’s drug use”

  1. Matt Says:

    It’s too bad but, as you note, no surprise. As you know, I’m a huge fan of cycling, but let’s face it: the performances have been impossible and the motive behind it is literally written all over the cyclists themselves (and their bikes and everything else): advertising profits. LA deserves the accolades he’s received; we just shouldn’t make any mistake about the fact that professional bicycling is just as polluted and disgusting as investment banking in its ruthless pursuit of accumulation at any cost. LA is the greatest cyclist ever, probably in part because he’s the greatest doper ever. Yet somehow the fans don’t get it. I was at a Giants game last night, watching The Other Doper, Barry Bonds, lumber around left field. The fans cheered the homers (none by Bonds, as it happens) without any concern for which chemical compounds produced them. The spectacle of the achievement — the impossible, inhuman, deeply technologized and specialized achievement — is thrilling precisely because *none of the fans can do it themselves.* Thirty-five hours a week on the bike or twice-daily shots of hormone and blood transfusions: what’s the difference to the fans? As for complaints about the decline of some legendary sportsmanlike work-ethic (which I know you would never make), nobody can say that Armstrong, Bonds, or any of these other guys don’t work hard. What’s harder work than radically tweaking the chemical and hormonal composition of your own body (in addition to thirty-five hours a week on the bike)? The short point is that doping in cycling is symptomatic of a larger sickness. Remember what Roy Cohn says in Angels in America: Ronald Reagan — in his inhuman, impossible, artificial, and brainless eternal healthfulness — is the perfect symbol of the United States. Isn’t Lance just another Reagan in that respect — his super-fitness a terrible index of our illness and weakness?

  2. PP Says:

    Seeing what came down the wire just now it looks like lance is not the only doper (allegedly)