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Andreu says Armstrong ‘dropped the ball’ in Oprah interview

  • By Daniel McMahon
  • Published Jan. 18, 2013
  • Updated Mar. 18, 2013 at 10:53 AM EDT
Betsy Andreu made an emotional appearance on CNN Thursday night. Photo: CNN

Even though Lance Armstrong finally admitted doping during his seven Tour de France victories on Thursday night, Betsy Andreu said she was still deeply disappointed in the disgraced cyclist, adding that he had failed her, her family, and the sport by not coming completely clean about all his wrongdoings.

Andreu appeared live on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” after the airing of part one of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong on her cable network, OWN.

When Cooper asked Andreu for her initial impressions of the interview, she said: “I’m really disappointed. He owed it to me.”

Becoming visibly upset, Andreu looked directly into the television camera: “You owed it to me, Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you’ve done to me, what you’ve done to my family, and you couldn’t own up to it? And now we’re supposed to believe you? You had one chance at the truth. This is it.”

Betsy Andreu’s husband, Frankie, once a friend and teammate of Armstrong, eventually fell out of Armstrong’s favor, he said, after he refused to keep taking drugs to stay competitive. He claimed that Armstrong pressured him to take banned substances from his Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari.

Andreu, who said he eventually quit racing professionally because of doping, went on to publicly admit that had used banned substances for a short period of time while riding as one of Armstrong’s teammates in the Tour de France.

During the interview, which was pre-recorded on Monday, Winfrey asked Armstrong about a specific conversation that the Andreus said took place in 1996 between Armstrong and his doctor while he was being treated for cancer.

According to the Andreus, who were present in the hospital with Armstrong, the doctor entered the room and asked Armstrong whether he was taking any drugs. The Andreus claimed that Armstrong told the doctor that he was in fact using several performance enhancing drugs, including the banned blood booster EPO.

Armstrong has always vehemently denied that the conversation had ever taken place.

When asked by Winfrey whether he still denied it, Armstrong only said that he would not talk about it. Winfrey then moved on to her next question.

“If the hospital room didn’t happen,” Andreu told Cooper, “just say it didn’t happen. But he won’t do it because it did happen. But if this is his way of saying, ‘OK, I don’t want to go there, we’ll give it to her,’ that is not good enough. That is not being transparent. That’s not being completely honest. That’s skirting the issue.”

Andreu said that she wanted to believe that Armstrong wanted to come clean, but that his responses in the interview gave her an indication that she could not.

In what Cooper himself described as a jaw-dropping moment in the interview, Armstrong explained some of the bad names he called Betsy Andreu over the years.

“I think [Betsy] would be OK with me saying this,” said Armstrong. I’m going to take the liberty and say it. I said, ‘Listen, I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. I called you all these things. But I never called you fat.’”

Watching that exchange between Armstrong and Winfrey left Andreu furious, she said.

“This is a guy who used to be my friend, who decimated me,” said Andreu. He could have come clean. He owed it to me. He owes it to the sport that he destroyed. And when he says he doesn’t like the UCI, that’s a bunch of crap. He had the UCI in his back pocket. Lance wasn’t a leader? That’s a bunch of crap, because he owned the [U.S. Postal Service] team.”

Armstrong told Winfrey that in the days leading up to the interview he had in fact phoned the Andreus, but he said that all was not well between them because they were “hurt too badly” and a 40-minute conversation wasn’t enough.

Andreu confirmed that she had spoken with Armstrong. Frankie Andreu confirmed to VeloNews earlier in the week that he had spoken with Armstrong prior to the interview airing.

“I was willing to give him a chance,” she said, “and this is how he responds?

“The hospital room is where it all started,” she said, “and so him not answering the question is going to infuriate people who know the truth. And so if he wants a shot at redemption here, he is really dropping the ball.”

According to Andreu, the reason Armstrong still won’t admit to the conversation in the hospital is that he is still protecting people who were loyal to him. Former Oakley sports marketing rep Stephanie McIlvain has disputed Andreu’s account of the hospital episode and is believed to have testified under oath during a grand jury investigation that federal attorneys dropped in February 2012.

Nonetheless, Andreu said Armstrong could still redeem himself if he told the truth, but that it would have to happen not in front of Winfrey but in front of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“And he’s got to be 100 percent truthful,” she said. “Tell them everything.”

Part two of Winfrey’s interview with Armstrong airs Friday night.

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