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For those that paid the price, an Armstrong apology will never be enough

  • By Neal Rogers
  • Published Jan. 17, 2013
  • Updated Jan. 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM EDT
Mike Anderson, once a member of Armstrong's inner circle, saw his world crumble after allegedly finding PEDs in the Texan's Girona apartment. Photo: Mike Anderson

Anderson: ‘I don’t trust him, and I never will’

Mike Anderson and Lance Armstrong were once friends and mountain-bike training partners in Austin. After Armstrong became a Tour champion, he hired on Anderson as his mechanic, handyman, and personal assistant. During his employment, which lasted from November 2002 to November 2004, Armstrong paid Anderson $3,000 a month and provided health benefits and a one-time bonus of $5,000.

According to Anderson’s sworn testimony in a countersuit against Armstrong, his tasks were “so helpful and numerous” that Armstrong’s wife Kristin referred to Anderson as “H2,” standing for “Husband Number Two.” Part of the employment agreement, Anderson claimed, was that Armstrong had agreed to help Anderson realize his dream of opening a bike shop in Austin.

That relationship slowly deteriorated over the summer of 2003, and went sour in February 2004; while cleaning out the bathroom of Armstrong’s apartment in Girona, Spain, Anderson discovered a box of what he believed to be Androstenedione, a banned steroid. Anderson’s sworn testimony states that the morning after his discovery it was clear Armstrong was aware of what had transpired, claiming “Armstrong was immediately distant and irritable towards Anderson and his family… and for the first time in their relationship, instructed Anderson to call and knock before they ever entered the Armstrong apartment. This was completely unlike the arrangement that had existed before.”

In December 2004, Armstrong sued Anderson over what he claimed was stolen property — primarily cycling equipment and two laptop computers — prompting Anderson to file a countersuit, claiming Armstrong had reneged on his promise to help him build a bike shop at the conclusion of the period of employment.

Following his termination, but prior to Armstrong’s lawsuit, Anderson claims he was offered a three-month severance package on the condition that he sign a non-disclosure agreement, which he refused. The suit was settled in November 2005; the terms of the agreement were confidential.

Armstrong representatives subsequently issued a document attacking Anderson’s credibility, claiming he was a disgruntled former employee, that Anderson never observed Armstrong commit an illegal act, was never requested to perform an illegal act, and never observed Armstrong ingest any prohibited substance.

Anderson, who holds a degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, moved to New Zealand — “as far away from Armstrong as possible” — and opened a bike shop, The Bike Hutt, in Upper Hutt, near Wellington.

In May 2008, Armstrong opened up his own bike shop in Austin, Mellow Johnny’s, the name a play on the French words for the Tour’s yellow jersey — maillot jaune. Anderson claims that many of the concepts behind Mellow Johnny’s originally stemmed from his dream of opening a shop.

Following Armstrong’s decision in August 2012 to accept the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s lifetime ban, Anderson wrote a long account for Outside, titled “My Life With Lance Armstrong,” which detailed the money he lost defending himself from Armstrong and his team of attorneys, and the emotional scars that battle inflicted.

Now, with Armstrong’s long-awaited confession imminent, Anderson said that if Armstrong is looking for forgiveness, he’d best look elsewhere.

“You don’t live your life ripping people apart, lying, cheating, and causing ruin to people’s lives, and then suddenly turn the corner and feel contrite,” Anderson told VeloNews. “I don’t buy it at all.”

Asked what an Armstrong apology would need to look like in order for him to accept it, Anderson said it was almost impossible to imagine.

“I know it’s not going to happen, but I would like to hear him tell the public, ‘Mike didn’t do this — he wasn’t a money-grubber, he didn’t make this stuff up, he’s not discredited,’” Anderson said. “I’d love to be told that I didn’t deserve to be run out of town, I didn’t deserve to be professionally ruined, I didn’t deserve to feel the need to move 15,000 kilometers away from my friends and family because I felt I couldn’t get gainful employment. I’d like him to apologize for making me feel like I needed to hide under a rock and hide my background, having worked for him. I’d like to hear an apology for having Mellow Johnny’s flaunted in my face, when most of the ideas of that conceptual shop were mine, when the existence of that shop was due to my concept.”

Ultimately, Anderson said he would never be able to forgive Armstrong, no matter what the fallen star had to say.

“I know Lance Armstrong well enough to know that anything he says, I know it would be made up — false,” Anderson said. “I don’t trust him, and I never will. [An apology] would be a meaningless gesture, a PR stunt, there is no doubt in my mind.”

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Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers

Neal Rogers is editor in chief of Velo magazine and VeloNews.com. An interest in all things rock 'n' roll led him into music journalism while attending UC Santa Cruz, on the central coast of California. After several post-grad years spent waiting tables, surfing, and mountain biking, he moved to San Francisco, working as a bike messenger, and at a software startup. He moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2001, taking an editorial internship at VeloNews. He never left. When not traveling the world covering races, he can be found riding his bike, skiing, or attending a concert.

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