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September 12, 2006

Two former Armstrong teammates admit doping

NYTimes | 2 Ex-Teammates of Cycling Star Admit Drug Use

Armstrong warmup, 1996 OlympicsFrankie Andreu and an anonymous US Postal rider from the 1999 squad have told the New York Times they used EPO and other banned substances to help deliver Lance Armstrong's first Tour victory.

Andreu was already off the Armstrong Christmas card list after his wife testified last year that Armstrong told his cancer doctors he had used performance enhancers.

    Here's the US Postal Tour squad for 1999:
  • ARMSTRONG Lance, USA
  • ANDREU Frankie, USA
  • DERAME Pascal, FRA
  • HAMILTON Tyler, USA
  • HINCAPIE George, USA
  • LIVINGSTON Kevin, USA
  • MEINERT-NIELSEN Peter, Denmark
  • VANDEVELDE Christian, USA
  • VAUGHTERS Jonathan, USA

If you put a gun to my head, I would speculate about Source No. 2, who “did not want to jeopardize his job in cycling” -- I don't think it's Tyler Hamilton or George Hincapie.

Both riders said they never saw Armstrong take anything illegal, but Andreu saw him sorting white pills before a race, which Armstrong said were caffeine.

Armstrong refused comment, but one of his attorneys pointed out that Armstrong won the SCA case, where an underwriter sought to deny him a bonus for his 5th consecutive Tour because they claimed he had doped to win them. Betsy Andreu testified in that case about Armstrong allegedly admitting drug use during his cancer treatment, and Sean Breen, the attorney, says “Like her testimony, I think her motives are completely unexplainable.”

To me, on the other hand, the story makes Betsy Andreu's apparent enmity toward Armstrong more, rather than less, understandable, if it's true.

Quoting:

“I remember Frankie saying: ‘You don’t understand. This is the only way I can even finish the Tour,’ ” she said. “ ‘After this, I promise you, I’ll never do it again.’ ”

Betsy Andreu said she grudgingly watched her husband help Armstrong traverse the mountains at the Tour that year. Later, she said, she was angry when her husband said he had once allowed a team doctor to inject him with an unidentified substance.

To this day, she blames Armstrong for what she said was pressure on teammates to use drugs. Her husband, she said, “didn’t use EPO for himself, because as a domestique, he was never going to win that race.”

“It was for Lance,” she said.

Stephen Swart, an Armstrong teammate in the Motorola days (pre-1999), also testified in the case, and said he and other Motorola riders discussed EPO in 1995, and that Armstrong thought there was “only one road to take” to compete at the sport's highest level.

Swart said one clear sign of the drug use in 1994 and 1995 was the omnipresent rider thermoses, filled with vials of EPO, and riders “every night at the hotel...running around trying to find some ice to fill up their thermos.”

Also:

Fears for Sport Made Cyclist Come Clean

Sidebar on Andreu specifically, including his recent dismissal from managing the Toyota-United team.

Boulder Report: Frankie's Courage

VeloNews | Andreu issues statement

Andreu points out that he used EPO before it was banned, and explains why he's speaking out now:

If anything I hope that my words help other riders, especially young riders, to not get caught up in doping. We need to make some steps to make things better. If DNA sampling and testing is required then that is the way we should move. I understand the invasion of privacy and no other sport requires this, but if you put the truth out on the table then perhaps something good will come from it.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 12, 2006 in Christian Vande Velde, Doping, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink

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Comments

Most folks I know are guessing Vaughters as the usual suspect.

Hincapie and Tyler - no way, agreed. Vandevelde - doesn't sound like an active cyclist is doing the talking.

OK, here's a gun to your head - what say you?

Posted by: Nancy Toby at Sep 12, 2006 2:26:43 PM

Just to add.... Kevin Livingston's website doesn't list any events since 2003?
Is he still active in cycling?
http://www.kevinlivingston.com/calendar.html
He had a Tour blog in 2005, but not in 2006:
http://blogs.active.com/livingston/

This Vaughters interview from a year ago sounds kind of bizarre to me in light of Andreu's disclosures:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=features/2005/vaughters_1999
Surprise, surprise, Vaughters hematocrit was 51%, one point under the limit.

Posted by: Nancy Toby at Sep 12, 2006 2:28:40 PM

So Andreu is so concerned for the sport of cycling that he admits his drug use and violation of the sport's rules only after he is out of competition. If he genuinly had valid motives for the betterment of the sport he would have considered this a decade ago when he was one of the people poisoning the sport.

His testamony now about Lance holds no credibility as he clearly has secondary motives. His wife was on him about drug use, he had to blame someone other than himself, so he tells her Lance made him do it. She then becomes pissed at Lance, fabricates a story that might or might not have a few elements of truth and Andreu in turn supports her fabrication.

Is Lance clean? I'd like to think so. If not clean then did it matter? Probably not because he was so thoroughly tested relative to his peers of the time that he could not have had a meaningful advantage compared to others with less frequent testing [the less you win, the fewer times one must pee in a cup].

Drug testing can never eliminate drug use. It can however keep the playing field relatively fair. Drug testing does need to be stepped up for all riders though. Because the domestics are tested less and are relatively expendable for the team, it is to the leader's advantage to be personally clean, while having his assistants dope. The doped assistants, stronger than the other leader's assistants pull the leader along so that he can conserve energy for critical stages. So it is quite possible that Lance was personally clean, yet benefitted from doping by proxy. The sport should consider the whole team tainted by one dirty urine.

Posted by: nevins at Sep 12, 2006 2:45:53 PM