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Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Statement from Lance Armstrong regarding axe grinders

June 28, 2006

Lance Armstrong last week confirmed that he would no longer dignify accusations made against him, principally in French newspapers, which were comprehensively considered in the trial, concluded six months ago, in which he was once again vindicated and awarded $2,500,000 in punitive/extra-contractual damages in addition to the $5,000,000 he was owed. As he also stated, he has asked his legal representatives to clarify, where appropriate, misleading or incorrect information leaked to the press in violation of the explicit orders issued by the Arbitration Tribunal.

L'Equipe and LeMonde, both French publications, included in their weekend editions selected portions of depositions and testimony from the trial. These materials were acquired in violation of the arbitrators' order of strict confidentiality. The papers also published recent quotes received from Greg Lemond. Conspicuously absent from the French accounts were confirmations by other witnesses that both Greg Lemond and his wife repeatedly lied under oath and that statements attributed to others by Lemond had been categorically repudiated. There is simply no credibility to Lemond's statements regarding Armstrong.

The latest publicity surrounds old allegations made by less than a handful of people holding grudges or grinding axes. These people are but a tiny fraction of the cycling people with whom Lance has been involved with over the years. Armstrong was closely associated with over 600 team-related colleagues during his cycling career; of those, only 4 made any allegations against him and none of those involved any first-hand observations of performance enhancing drug use. The French papers ran extensive coverage of the so-called Indiana hospital incident, which was comprehensively addressed by Armstrong last week. Lance testified it never happened as he would never have confessed to something he never did nor would he have been asked those questions 11 days into his treatment, three days after brain surgery in a TV room full of family and friends by people not his treating physicians; Lance's doctor said it didn't happen; the records show it didn't happen; the other people in that hospital room either say it didn't happen or have no recollection of any such conversation. The Andreus are the only people who say they recall hearing it, even though they couldn't identify any of Lance's doctors as the white coated people allegedly in the room, hurriedly left the room before the conversation was complete, could not remember the number of doctors, their gender, and most incredibly, she could not remember whether Armstrong had any indication of the extensive brain surgery he had undergone only three days previous to the alleged incident. She was also unaware that Lance was required to undergo an active steroid and EPO regimen as part of his post-operative treatment, a reasonable explanation for those terms under the circumstances.

The papers neglected to frame Betsy Andreu's testimony in the context of the case: she conferred with and assisted the insurance company, she voluntarily travelled to Dallas on her own to testify against Armstrong at trial (the panel had no power to subpoena her appearance at the trial), she conferred with the Lemonds over 100 times during approximately ten months during 2004 and 2005 in a collective effort to attack Armstrong. Armstrong's lawyers recovered a note she brought to Dallas which read "why do I hate Lance Armstrong?" She was so obsessive that even the insurance company employee responsible for attempting to gather evidence of drug use by Lance (the employee had gone so far as to steal a piece of used chewing gum Armstrong had placed in a trash can in a Dallas Courtroom and sent it for DNA testing at a Dallas laboratory, the results of which were of course negative) complained of her constant phone calls and suggestions. She placed over 15 calls to the investigator during a one-month period prior to the trial. All this evidence was introduced at trial before the Panel signed its award for 7.5 million dollars to Armstrong.

The French press ran new and old statements of Greg Lemond. None of them were credible. Greg Lemond retired in 1994, two years before Armstrong was stricken with cancer. He was never a teammate, never competed with or against Armstrong and was not involved in professional cycling at any time after 1994. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lemond testified under oath in depositions, prior to which they were given assurance no one outside the trial would ever be able to read their testimony (the arbitrators' confidentiality order prohibited any disclosure). Under oath, they both claimed that Ms. Andreu had given them first-hand accounts of a variety of Armstrong misconducts. For example, the Lemonds said Ms. Andreu had related that Armstrong had called her home frantically looking for EPO and that her husband had witnessed Armstrong injecting himself with drugs. Andreu's trial testimony on the Lemonds' depositions is as follows:

Q. Now, you're aware that both Greg and Kathy LeMond testified that you told them that Mr. Armstrong had called your house in a panic because he was out of EPO, and he wanted some from Frank?

A. No, that's not right.

Q. It was a lie by both LeMonds?

A. That was incorrect.

Q. Well, it was a lie?

A. That was incorrect by the LeMonds. I don't know - how they got that.

Q. Are you aware that both LeMonds testified that you told them that you had witnessed Mr. Armstrong inject himself with performance-enhancing drugs?

A. No. That Lance told Frankie that.

Q. Well, are you aware that both of the LeMonds testified that you told them that?

A. No.

Q. If they did so testify, that would be a lie, wouldn't it?

A. That would be incorrect, yes.

Q. So it's your testimony that you never told either the - either of the LeMonds the two stories that I just mentioned; right?

A. Correct.

Q. And you didn't tell them that because that never happened?

A. Correct.

Other alleged Lemond conversations were likewise disproved. The Lemonds claimed, under oath, that Julian DeVriese, a Belgian mechanic who worked for Lemond and later for the Postal Service team, had made statements linking Armstrong to illegal conduct. The French papers recently published those claims but neglected to disclose that DeVriese was asked in the trial process to address specifically the accusations the Lemonds attributed to him. In his answers, set out below, DeVriese repudiated entirely the Lemond allegations:

Q. In your service as a mechanic for the USPS, did you ever observe Lance Armstrong engage in any prohibited conduct including, but not limited to, the use of any performance enhancing substance ("PES")?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever observe any member of the USPS team use PES?

A. No.

Q. Did you ever assist in the procurement, transportation or disposal of any PES for the USPS or any member of the team?

A. No.

Q. Were you ever told by any member, coach, trainer or director of the USPS that any PES had been used by any USPS team member?

A. No.

Q. Did you tell Greg LeMond that you had attended a training camp in the Pyrenees with Kevin Livingston, Tyler Hamilton, Lance Armstrong and Dr. Ferrari where they were using large amounts of drugs which were new, out of the system in 48 hours and could never be detected?

A. No, I did not. While I attended some training camps, I have never met a Dr. Ferrari. In fact, if you put 100 people in front of me I could not recognize him.

Q. Did you tell Kathy LeMond that Lance Armstrong had a positive drug test in 1999 for cortisone?

A. I may have mentioned that, I do not recall. However, that was reported in the newspapers, so it was no secret. I was told that it resulted from a cortisone cream used to treat saddle-sores, which are common among professional cyclists.

Q. Did you tell Kathy LeMond that the team security back-dated prescription for the cortisone?

A. No.

Q. Did you tell Kathy LeMond that the UCI and/or the President of the UCI was paid $500,000 to keep quiet about the 1999 positive?

A. No. I am a bicycle mechanic and I would have no knowledge or information regarding such things, anyway.

Q. Did you tell Greg LeMond in April, 2001 that a French investigation dealing with the 2000 Tour de France was dismissed because you signed a false or fraudulent affidavit?

A. No.

Q. Did Lance Armstrong or Bill Stapleton request you to sign a false affidavit in connection with that investigation?

A. No.

Q. Did you tell Greg LeMond or Kathy LeMond that the USPS team had refrigerators ("frigos") on the bus for the purpose of keeping prohibited performance enhancing drugs refrigerated?

A. No.

Q. Did you tell Emma O'Reilly that you transported drugs to members of the USPS team via a hollowed-out heel on your clogs?

A. No. Furthermore, I do not wear or own a pair of clogs.

Q. Did you, at a dinner in Perne la Fontaine, in July 2000, with Vera, Stephan, Dean Brewer, Jorge Jasson and the LeMond's and their children present, tell those at dinner about a three-week training camp where the riders, including Lance, were on IVs doing drugs and experimenting with a drug that's undetectable and out of the system in 48 hours?

A. No. I recall going to dinner the night after the reunion and that my wife and son were there. However, there was no conversation about PES by USPS or anyone else. I would never discuss any such topic at a dinner with my family or children.

Q. Did you, at the 10-year reunion in July, 2000 tell Greg or Kathy Lemond about any PES use by the USPS team or its members?

A. No.

In the trial, the centerpiece of the insurance company's refusal to pay the bonus was David Walsh's book, LA Confidential. Available only in French and rejected by all twenty-plus English language publishers to which the book was pitched, the book contains unfounded and unsupported allegations, virtually all of which were exhaustively presented through testimony from Walsh or his storytellers during the trial. Walsh, formerly with the Sunday Times of London, actively assisted the insurance company in the arbitration, meeting with them in Detroit early in the case, flying to New York for a deposition and voluntarily travelling once more to Texas to testify live at trial, never under compulsion of subpoena or otherwise. Walsh conferred with Ms. Andreu and the Lemonds regarding the arbitration. Walsh's storytellers testified, were subject to scrutiny and their stories evaluated by the arbitrators. In the end, the evidence presented conclusively demonstrated that the book was written and published without adherence to even minimum standards of journalistic integrity or ethics. For example, featured sources were paid for their information; Walsh initially denied and lied about paying those sources; the significant tales of Emma O'Reilly, a masseuse, were based largely upon her diary which was discovered to have had all salacious matters regarding Armstrong backdated some 2-3 years after the dates the alleged events took place. Nonetheless, Walsh used and published those allegations, knowing the fraudulent nature of the entries. O'Reilly was also enamored of a "big payday"; one email between Walsh and Prentice Steffen shows O'Reilly agreed to participate in a bizarre scheme devised by Steffen to file a whistleblower suit and attempt to recover $60,000,000.

Tim Herman and Sean Breen, attorneys who represented Armstrong in the trial, provided copies of testimony and responses which conclusively address and contradict the principal L. A. Confidentiel allegations and those contained in the reports of Le Monde and L ‘Equipe. They explained how misleading it is to release a few selected items and testimony from a trial which lasted three weeks. The entirety of over 2,600 pages of testimony and approximately 300 exhibits were presented to three experienced arbitrators who had no prior connection to any of the parties. The arbitrators were able to observe witnesses and make informed judgments about their truthfulness. "If the first sip is sour, you don't need to drink the whole milk carton to be sure it's bad", Herman said. "Likewise, witnesses who lie under oath about some things are seldom worthy of belief about others". After having "considered the evidence and testimony" the arbitrators unanimously ordered the insurance company to pay $7,500,000. Armstrong won. The accusers lost.

Despite his victory, someone has released selected portions of negative testimony from the trial, likely in an attempt to smear, harm or embarrass Armstrong. The trial proceedings and testimony were ordered to be confidential to avoid the very thing that has now occurred: the misleading and one-sided leaks of accusations in piecemeal fashion. The insurance company denies it gave the confidential information to the press and states that Dick Pound of WADA is the only person to whom the insurance company provided any testimony or exhibits from the trial. Pound's animosity and public feud with Armstrong is widely known. During the UCI's independent investigation of other French allegations contained in a L ‘Equipe story in 2005, Pound's subordinate, David Howman sent "two boxes of materials containing sworn depositions, testimony and exhibits" to the UCI. In his cover letter, Howman noted that WADA had no jurisdiction "either to fully inquire as to the use of the materials, nor to subsequently undertake any sanction process" in the Armstrong matter. Later, the independent UCI report concluded that the L ‘Equipe accusation regarding 1999 urine samples was without foundation and that Mr. Pound had, on behalf of himself and WADA, breached numerous ethical duties through threats and manipulation of the French laboratory that had cooperated with him.

Selective, salacious false materials have been illegally leaked, directly and indirectly, to hand-picked members of the French and American press. It is the selective leak of the information that has required the response of Armstrong and his legal representatives. Armstrong has authorized his attorneys to investigate and seek appropriate sanctions for those involved in the leak and smear campaign.

(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)