Andreu: ‘Actions speak louder than words’
Over the past decade, Betsy Andreu has emerged as, if not Armstrong’s biggest critic, then rather his bravest critic. Once a close friend and sometimes-roommate of Armstrong’s — her husband Frankie raced alongside him at Motorola and U.S. Postal, as well as the U.S. National Team — Andreu first fell afoul of Armstrong in December 2003 when she attempted to provide Walsh with the phone number of Armstrong’s former girlfriend, Lisa Shiels.
Armstrong sent Frankie Andreu an email, writing, “helping to bring me down is not going to help y’all’s situation at all. There is a direct link to all our success here and I suggest you remind (Betsy) of that.”
That relationship was permanently severed when a lawsuit between Armstrong and SCA Promotions forced the Andreus in late 2005 to testify under oath that Armstrong had admitted, in front of friends, family and doctors in an Indiana hospital in 1996, to using performance enhancing drugs.
“After that, it was all-out attack, war on my wife and I,” Frankie Andreu told CNN. “They ripped us apart. I lost a lot of jobs, lost a lot of money. It’s been a very long, long fight.”
Upon retiring from racing in 2000, Andreu served as a team director at U.S. Postal Service in 2001 and 2002. However, as his relationship with Armstrong became more strained, Andreu found his marketability in the racing world had diminished. In July 2006, he was fired from his role as director for the domestic team Toyota-United. In his testimony to USADA, Andreu testified that, “Although the team owner, Sean Tucker, denied it was because of my testimony regarding Lance, it coincided with the controversy surrounding my testimony and that of Betsy in the SCA arbitration.”
In his role as an on-screen commentator for the Versus TV network, which broadcast the Tour de France, Andreu was prohibited from speaking with Armstrong’s teams. Andreu’s contract with the network, which in 2012 re-branded as NBC Sports Network, was not renewed in 2011. Over the years, teams that Andreu directed have not received invitations to the biggest races in the U.S., such as the Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge, even though, on paper, his were stronger than some teams that were invited. Andreu told USADA that he has been told that his public disputes with Armstrong “made it more difficult for others in the cycling industry to work with me, because they fear reprisal from Lance and his associates.”
Asked about lost opportunities, Andreu, who now directs the Five-hour Energy-Kenda domestic team, said he preferred to not name specific examples.
“There were jobs where I was let go of, and there were jobs that just didn’t come my way,” he told VeloNews. “I received responses that I was too controversial. Whether that was the direct influence of Lance Armstrong or not, I don’t know. He might not have been calling people and telling them not to hire me, but people knew I was on the opposite side of him, so they didn’t reach out to me.”
Meanwhile, Andreu’s wife Betsy saw her character attacked — Armstrong described her alternatively as bitter, vindictive and jealous. She received harassing phone calls and emails, both from Armstrong’s associates, and even scarier, from complete strangers.
Given that neither of the Andreus would comment on whether or not they’d been contacted by Armstrong this week, their comments on what an Armstrong apology would need to look like in order to be accepted were intriguing.
Last week, Betsy Andreu had said she felt Armstrong was incapable of contrition, and had “zero thought about the people whose lives he’s messed over,” adding, “Let him give money to everyone whose careers he destroyed, let him live in typical American 1,200-square foot home, driving a Ford Taurus, then we’ll know he’s contrite.”
On Tuesday, Frankie Andreu appeared on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” and gave an impassioned interview during which he called Armstrong “a bad guy” and detailed the difficulties his family faced after testifying against Armstrong.
On Wednesday, however, Betsy Andreu’s tone was more lenient.
“Only time will tell if Lance is sincere in his apologies,” she said. “If he goes on TV and gives some kind of partial confession, those who know him, and know the truth, will see right through it. Actions speak louder than words. Let’s see if there’s behavior that would go along with a confession and apology.”