- Article published:
- June 23, 2006, 00:00
- Gerry McManus
Barely three weeks after the Vrijman report dismissed L'Equipe's allegations that Lance Armstrong...
Barely three weeks after the Vrijman report dismissed L'Equipe's allegations that Lance Armstrong used EPO in 1999, the now retired seven-time Tour champion has come under fire from another angle. French newspaper Le Monde is reporting in its Friday edition that Armstrong admitted to using performance enhancing drugs prior to contracting testicular cancer in 1996.
The allegations were made during the SCA Promotions vs. Armstrong trial that concluded in February. SCA Promotions is an insurance company that paid Armstrong millions of dollars for his Tour wins after the team took out a $420,000 insurance policy in 2001. But following the publication of David Walsh and Pierre Ballester's book, LA Confidentiel, les secrets de Lance Armstrong, which alleged that Armstrong had used illegal drugs, SCA disputed the $5 million payment for the 2004 Tour, saying that it wanted evidence (Armstrong's medical records, for example) that the allegations were untrue.
In court statements obtained by Le Monde, Betsy Andreu, the partner of Armstrong's ex-teammate and friend Frankie Andreu, related her version of events that took place in an Indiana hospital on October 28, 1996, while he was being treated for cancer: "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."
Betsy Andreu's statement was made on January 17, 2006, and according to Le Monde, backed up what her husband had said to the court on October 25, 2005. "I don't know how the doctor formulated his question, but the response was that he had taken EPO, testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone," said Frankie Andreu.
But a third person present at the hospital in 1996, Stephanie McIlvain, an employee of Armstrong's sunglasses sponsor Oakley, denied the Andreus' version of events. In her testimony on November 14, 2005, she said that there was no conversation like that between Armstrong and his doctors. But her story has been questioned by Greg Lemond, who recorded a phone conversation with McIlvain on September 21, 2004, where she said, "If I am cited, I'll do it...For I won't lie. You know I was in the room. I heard."
Three others were also in the hospital room: his then girlfriend, Lisa Shiels, his trainer Chris Carmichael, and Carmichael's wife Paige. Neither those, nor the doctors who operated on Armstrong, were called to give evidence by the lawyers of the Texan, nor SCA Promotions.
Lance Armstrong's own deposition, given on November 30, 2005, denied that any doctor had asked him whether he had used performance enhancing drugs. He claimed that Betsy Andreu had a grudge against him, and Frankie Andreu gave the same story to support his wife.