Lance Armstrong is considering a public confession to the drug use that cost him his seven Tour de France titles, hoping that will convince anti-doping officials to ease the lifetime ban he received for operating what has been described as the most sophisticated performance-enhancing drug scheme in sports history.
But one of the many Armstrong associates who were bullied and abused by the disgraced cyclist because they told the truth about his use of steroids, growth hormone, EPO and other banned substances says he hardly deserves a second chance.
“Does he think people are completely stupid?” asked Betsy Andreu, whom the cyclist vilified as a bitter and vindictive woman because she testified in a court case that she had heard Armstrong tell his cancer physicians that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. Her husband, former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, was denied jobs in the sport because he refused to lie for Armstrong, according to the damning report released by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in October that detailed the cyclist’s drug use.
“This guy is like a Mafia don,” she added. “Will he apologize to all the people who wouldn’t lie for him? Will he compensate people for costing them jobs and businesses? How do you put a price on lost opportunities?”
The New York Times reported on Friday that Armstrong, whose Tour de France victories were scrubbed from the record books after the USADA described how the cyclist pressured teammates to use banned drugs, now hopes to escape his lifetime ban. Armstrong’s attorney Tim Herman did not return a call for comment.
The newspaper said that Armstrong has been in discussions with USADA officials and has met with Travis Tygart, its chief executive. He also hopes to meet with David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Tygart did not return a call for comment late Friday.
The WADA code says athletes who fully confess to doping might be eligible for a reduced punishment. Armstrong hopes to compete in triathlons and other events, but many of those are sanctioned by athletic organizations that have agreed to the WADA code.
“Will he pay Christophe millions of dollars for forcing him out of the sport?” Andreu asked, referring to Christophe Bassons. Bassons has said that Armstrong threatened him because he suggested banned drugs fueled Armstrong’s comeback from cancer.
“Will he compensate (Tour de France champion) Greg LeMond for ruining his bicycle business? Will he apologize to Emma (O’Reilly, Armstrong’s former masseuse) for calling her a prostitute? Forgiving doesn’t mean being a doormat. Being a Christian doesn’t mean allowing people to profit from their crimes.”
USADA and WADA may consider easing Armstrong’s lifetime ban if Armstrong agreed to identify International Cycling Union officials and the leaders of cycling teams who are complicit in the doping that has corrupted the sport. But Andreu said it would be a slap in the face to those who stood up to Armstrong during the years when he was cycling’s dominant force – and helped USADA compile its explosive report — if Tygart and Howman moved to reduce Armstrong’s penalty.
Andreu also wonders if Armstrong’s confession would include an explanation of the role he and his attorneys played in the decision by Andre Birotte, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, to abruptly end a two-year investigation into the cyclist
There are several legal reasons why Armstrong may ultimately decide not to issue a public doping confession. SCA Promotions, a Dallas-based insurance company, has threatened to take legal action to recoup the $7.5 million it paid Armstrong in a 2006 settlement after SCA withheld the bonus because of doping allegations following Armstrong’s 2004 Tour de France victory.
Floyd Landis, his former Postal Service teammate whose 2006 Tour de France title was stripped because of doping, has also filed a whistle-blower lawsuit and stands to collect 30% of the $60 million the Postal Service paid the team between 1996 and 2004. The Justice Department is considering entering the case as a plaintiff.
“If people give this guy another chance,” Andreu said, “then people are dumb.”