Banned cyclist Lance Armstrong talks to Oprah Winfrey about performance-enhancing… (George Burns / AFP / Getty…)
Betsy Andreu might not have collected the affirmation she sought from Lance Armstrong, but she indeed emerged vindicated from the tarnished cyclist’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“It’s a relief for myself because he told the truth.… For him to get on TV and say he was a cheat and a fraud for all of his seven Tour wins, that took a hell of a lot of courage,” Andreu said. “He’s broken, and that’s sad.”
Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former Tour de France teammate and close friend Frankie Andreu, was a determined critic of Armstrong’s for years, dating to her insistence that the couple heard Armstrong tell cancer doctors at an Indiana hospital in 1996 that he indeed had been using several performance-enhancing substances.
Armstrong long denied that account, and took to bashing the Andreus and others who dared to question the legitimacy of his cycling feats.
In the Winfrey interview that aired last week, Armstrong again declined to address the Andreus’ hospital room account, and Betsy Andreu said, “I’m mad, he dropped the ball by doing that.”
Armstrong last week called the Andreus and spoke to them for about 40 minutes, delivering an apology that Betsy Andreu said was “genuine and sincere, emotional.… That sincerity did not come across on Oprah.”
Reflecting on Armstrong’s fall from grace, she said that he “ruled the world, but instead of doing good with it, he did bad and hurt many people. He tried to hide behind ostensible good” in forming the cancer-fighting Livestrong organization.
“He changed a lot of people’s lives for the worse … and I don’t know that he’s really got that,” Betsy Andreu said. “He didn’t ruin my life. He gave me resolve. Every time he pushed me, I pushed back twice as hard. It wasn’t because I decided to go after Lance. It was because I decided not to lie for him.”
Andreu said she believes Armstrong should be punished in civil court and should seek to fully cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which released a voluminous report that left him stripped of his Tour titles and banned from competition for life.
“He’s going to have sit down with USADA and give them every single detail about who aided and abetted him -- the who, what, when, where, why and how of it,” Andreu said.
Andreu criticized U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte’s office in Los Angeles for not giving USADA more details of a grand-jury investigation of Armstrong that closed last February without charges.
USADA "accomplished in months what the U.S. attorneys couldn’t in two years,” she said.
Currently, the Department of Justice is weighing whether to join a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed against Armstrong by former teammate Floyd Landis for allegedly defrauding former Armstrong's cycling team sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service.
Of Armstrong, Andreu said, “The guy needs prayers now. He lives in a mansion, but in a home nobody wants to be in. Would you rather have his money or my reputation?”