Lance Armstrong and Frankie Andreu were once the best of friends and the closest of teammates.
Times have changed.
In the early 2000s, when Armstrong was making global headlines and tens of millions of dollars winning a record seven Tours de France — the planet’s largest and most gruelling annual sporting event — Andreu, a quiet guy from Michigan, worked dutifully for the brash Texan as a loyal teammate.
Andreu would ride for hours over mountains and into headwinds across France so that Armstrong could sit in his slipstream and conserve energy to make his race-winning moves.
He would drop back from the front of the pack, get water bottles from support cars, then ride back to the front and give those bottles to Armstrong so that he could stay hydrated.
If Armstrong got a flat, Andreu was there to give him his wheel.
Away from racing, the Armstrong and Andreu families would hang out together and their kids would play together. They’d party when Armstrong won, which he did often, and Andreu was there, in the background, having worked to help Armstrong achieve incredible victories.
Eventually both admitted doping during their racing careers, and the biggest fraud in sports history was revealed for the world to see. But the way their confessions came about couldn’t have been more different.
Early on, Andreu came out and told Juliet Macur of The New York Times that he’d doped for a handful of races during his career. Much later, after years of denial, Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey that he’d doped for all seven of his Tour victories.
In between those two confessions, there was a protracted, litigious battle that ended up exposing what the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2012 called “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
Just when things seemed to have settled down, now Armstrong has testified that Andreu “doped for the majority of his career” and “that is absolutely the truth,” new court documents released Monday show.
Armstrong is being sued by the US government in a $US100 million fraud case, and the documents released are related to it.
Meanwhile, for the past several years since the Armstrong scandal, Andreu has tried to rebuild his career, working in cycling as a race commentator, announcer, and journalist. But his wife, Betsy Andreu, told Business Insider this summer that it’s been a struggle at times for her husband to earn a living in cycling given all that’s happened.
Here is Armstrong’s statement in the court documents obtained by Business Insider:
Q: Do you still feel like you owe Frankie an apology?
A: Well, I have apologised to Frankie. Frankie was the first person that I apologised to.
But what I said on Twitter was true. We know that to be true. I didn’t — I didn’t — at this point in time, there’s no more lies here. That — what I said on there, if I — if I said that Frankie doped for the majority of his career, that — that is absolutely the truth.
With Armstrong’s new statement, made under oath, Andreu’s comeback is being threatened, he says. Asked why Armstrong would say such a thing after all this time — years after Armstrong finally admitted doping — Andreu told Business Insider in an email that Armstrong was out to ruin him.
“He just wants to bring me down,” he told Business Insider. “My testimony tells the truth. I began racing at 12 years old, first nationals was in 1976. Joined 7-11 when I was 19 in 1984 and raced in Europe. It wasn’t until I was 29 when I took EPO, my last I year took nothing, and I retired at 33. That’s not a majority.
“Lance is always in attack mode. Why just call me out? I only did two winning Tours with him. The others did a lot of years.
“He is out to wreck me,” Andreu said.
A critical point along the Armstrong-investigation timeline remains the Andreus’ sworn testimony.
Both Betsy and Frankie Andreu testified they were present in an Indiana hospital room with Armstrong when, they say, he told two doctors about a number of PEDs he had been using, including cortisone, testosterone, growth hormone, steroids, and EPO. Armstrong denied the Andreus’ story.
When Armstrong finally confessed to doping during most of his career on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2013, Winfrey asked if all was well between him and Betsy and if they had “made peace,” to which Armstrong said, “No … because they have been hurt too badly.”
Armstrong declined to comment for this story.
But for sure the bigger story won’t be ending anytime soon.
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