A BULLY’S DOWN­FALL

Vic­tims of Arm­strong’s strong-arm tac­tics feel re­lief, vin­di­ca­tion in wake of USADA re­port

New York Daily News - - END ZONE - BY B TERI THOMP­SON, NATHANIEL VIN­TON, MICHAEL O’KE­EFFE and CHRIS­TIAN RED

Dop­ing might some­times be a vic­tim­less crime, but not in the case of Lance Arm­strong, whose drug abuse and il­licit blood trans­fu­sions cre­ated a phony em­pire of wealth, adu­la­tion and power that had to be pro­tected at all costs.

The Arm­strong myth was so lu­cra­tive that sup­press­ing the truth came to re­quire an end­less be­hind-the-scenes cam­paign to bully and in­tim­i­date peo­ple into si­lence. Some of it bor­dered on gang­ster­ism. Some of it was dressed up in the re­spectable wardrobe of elite law firms. But mostly it was just hot air — a fact that by 2010 had be­come clear enough to Floyd Lan­dis that he stepped up and burst the bub­ble, blow­ing the whis­tle on the whole big fraud.

In 2008, when the Daily News started re­port­ing in earnest on the grow­ing ev­i­dence that Arm­strong had cheated, we found that para­noia struck deep in the cy­cling world. It’s a small in­dus­try, and Arm­strong was a tran­scen­dent fig­ure, so pow­er­ful inside his sport that peo­ple feared for their liveli­hoods and rep­u­ta­tions if they crossed him.

Four years later, it’s eas­ier for the wider world to see why. The ev­i­dence pub­lished this month by the U.S. Anti-Dop­ing Agency shows that Arm­strong and his cronies pos­sessed a cyn­i­cal as­sured­ness that their yel­low wrist­bands en­ti­tled them to smash any­one who threat­ened their cor­rupt regime.

But it’s also al­ready be­com­ing harder for the world to see how lonely and painful it was for peo­ple in cy­cling to stand up and re­sist Arm­strong’s Machi­avel­lian tac­tics. Now it’s trendy to be an ac­cuser — it’s the stuff of best­sellers, not defama­tion com­plaints. But if you took on that role dur­ing the peak of Arm­strong’s Tour de France dom­i­nance you might be vil­i­fied, ac­cused of be­ing jeal­ous, drunk, un­pa­tri­otic, men­tally dis­turbed.

A lot of times Arm­strong him­self didn’t have to lift a fin­ger. Enough peo­ple were in­vested in his lies that they be­came foot sol­diers in his de­cep­tions. We pub­lished on our web­site a voice­mail where an Arm­strong friend — a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of one of his most loyal spon­sors — tells one of his ac­cusers, Betsy An­dreu, the wife of a for­mer Arm­strong team­mate, that she hopes “some­body breaks a base­ball bat over (her) head.” We pub­lished tran­scripts of a de­po­si­tion in which Arm­strong’s exwife isn’t al­lowed to an­swer ques­tions about Arm­strong and dop­ing be­cause Arm­strong’s lawyer won’t al­low her to. Those were among

well over 100 sto­ries the Daily News pub­lished in the past four and a half years di­rectly or tan­gen­tially re­lated to Arm­strong and dop­ing. The point wasn’t to de­ter­mine who re­ally de­served to wear a yel­low span­dex T-shirt on the Champs-Elysées; it was about get­ting peo­ple’s sto­ries out in the open in the mar­ket­place of in­for­ma­tion that Arm­strong seemed to so thor­oughly reg­u­late.

Slowly, those who Arm­strong bul­lied and in­tim­i­dated be­gan to be heard. The con­sis­tent, cred­i­ble claims of Frankie and Betsy An­dreu and Greg and Kathy Le­Mond, the dogged re­port­ing of jour-nal­ist like David Walsh and the French news­pa­per L’Equipe’s Damien Res­siot, Floyd Lan­dis’ whis­tle blow­ing emails in 2010, a fed­eral grand jury probe and a U.S. Anti-Dop­ing Agency i nves­ti­ga­tion — all gave oth­ers cover to tell the truth.

These are some of their sto­ries.

GREG AND KATHY LE­MOND

By the sum­mer of 2001, Dr. Michele Fer­rari, de­scribed in the USADA re­port as the ar­chi­tect of the U.S. Postal Ser­vice team’s dop­ing pro­gram, was be­com­ing a prob­lem for Lance Arm­strong.

The Sun­day Times of Lon­don pub­lished a story by David Walsh that year about Arm­strong’s ties to Fer­rari, who was about to go on trial in Italy for sport­ing fraud be­cause he had al­legedly pro­vided per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs to ath­letes. Com­ments by three-time Tour de France win­ner Greg Le­Mond — who said he was “dis­ap­pointed” with Arm­strong for as­so­ci­at­ing with the con­tro­ver­sial doc­tor — es­pe­cially galled Arm­strong, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit by Frankie An­dreu in­cluded in USADA’s re­port.

“I re­call Lance say­ing words to the ef­fect of, ‘Who does Greg think he is, talk­ing about Fer­rari? I’m go­ing to take him down,’ ” An­dreu says in the af­fi­davit. “Dur­ing this con­ver­sa­tion, Lance never de­nied or dis­puted per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs but crit­i­cized Le­Mond for crit­i­ciz­ing him.”

That sum­mer, Le­Mond has said, Arm­strong told him dur­ing a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion that he could find 10 peo­ple who would vow that Le­Mond — rec­og­nized as the only Amer­i­can to win the Tour de France, now that Arm­strong and Floyd Lan­dis have

been stripped of their ti ti­tles be­cause of dop­ing — had used EPO. He re­ceived calls from as­so­ci­ates who warned him not to fur­ther cross Arm­strong.

Even more fright­en­ing, fright­eni Le­Mond’s wife Kathy has said, was A Arm­strong’s of­fer to pay $300,000 to on one of her hus­band’s for­mer team­mates teamma to claim that he had seen LeM Le­Mond use the oxy­gen­boost­ing dru drug. The team­mate de­clined the o of­fer.

“It show shows how des­per­ate Lance was was,” Kathy Le­Mond says. “It is a huge ex­am­ple of what a bul bully Lance Arm­strong is. He cros crosses lines no oth­ers will cross.”

Le­Mon Le­Mond re­port­edly is­sued an apolog apol­ogy for his com­ments about Arm­strong Arm and Fer­rari a month a af­ter Walsh’s ar­ti­cle was publi pub­lished, but his wife told The N News last week that the apol­ogy was writ­ten and rel­leased leased by T Trek Bi­cy­cle, the com­pany that had man­u­fac­tured Le­Mond bi­cy­cles since the 1990s but was also a premier Arm­stron Arm­strong spon­sor. Le­Mond has al­lege al­leged that Arm­strong pres­sured Trek pres­i­dent John Burke to m muz­zle him. Le­Mond sued Trek in 2008 for brea­chof-con­tract of-con­tract, and Trek coun­ter­sued. The lit­i­ga­tion was ul­ti­mately set­tled settl out of court. Kathy Le­Mond says her famil fam­ily is grat­i­fied that USA USADA has vin­di­cated Gr Greg with its ex­haus­tiv tive re­port de­tail­ing Ar Arm­strong’s so­phis­tica cated dop­ing scheme, but they are dis­ap­pointed that th so many peo­ple who k knew the truth re­maine mained silent while Arm­strong and his camp re­tal­i­ated ag against her hus­band. “These peo­ple who came for­wardd for­ward and ac­knowl­edged ac­knowled that they doped are gett­ting get­ting this for­give for­give­ness for telling the truth, bbut but it is easy to tel tell the truth now,” she says. “WWhere “Where were the they when Lance was threateen­ing threat­en­ing Greg?

She calls Frankie And An­dreu “ex­tra­or­di­nary” be­causse be­cause he ac­knowl­edged ac­knowled he used drugs years aggo ago and re­fused to t toe Arm­strong’s line. “I am very vvery im­pressed wi with Frankie and Betsy,” shee she says. “They are ballsy b peo­ple.”

“Theere “There is no joy in thi this for us,” adds Kathy LeMonnd. Le­Mond. “It is sad that this sport has been taken tto to this low of a lev level. There were hun­dreds oof of peo­ple who turn turned a blind eye.”

BETSY AND FRANKIE AN­DREU

Betsy Betssy An­dreu woke up to a pair of dis­turb­ing turbingg voice­mails in the spring of 2008. The mes­sages mes­sagges were from St Stephanie McIl­vain, a close e friend of Arm­strong’s Armst who worked for one e of his spon­sors, the Oak­ley eye­wear com­pany.

Abu­sive Abu­u­sive and histri­onic, histri tapes of the voice­mails voicem­mails were the cu cul­mi­na­tion of years of threats thhreats and in­tim­i­da­tion in­timid tac­tics Arm­strong stronng had used again against the An­dreus.

“I “II hope some­body b breaks a base­ball bat over overr your head,” McIl­vain McI tells An­dreu in the first mes­sage. “I also hope that one day daay you have ad­ver ad­ver­sity in your life and you yoou have some type of tragedy that will def­i­nitely def­i­ni­teely make an im­pact impa on you.”

The fol­low­ing day McIl­vain M left an­other mes­sage for An­dreu, apol­o­giz­ing for the first voice­mail and blam­ing it on two bot­tles of wine — but mak­ing it clear the long friend­ship be­tween the two women was over.

“I wish you the best of luck, but I don’t know,” McIl­vain says in the sec­ond mes­sage. “You’re try­ing to de­stroy one per­son’s life. And the whole (gist) of it you’re try­ing to de­stroy a lot of peo­ple’s life.”

The tapes, pub­lished by The News in 2010, be­came part of the aborted fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Arm­strong. An­dreu said she shared the tapes to il­lus­trate what she and her hus­band were fac­ing for tes­ti­fy­ing against Arm­strong in a 2005 ar­bi­tra­tion case.

“I wanted to show what kind of treat­ment we were get­ting,” An­dreu told The News. “When I got those phone calls, I was wor­ried on one hand and dis­gusted on the other.”

There had been a time when they were all friends: Arm­strong and Frankie An­dreu had be­come close when they were both on the Mo­torola cy­cling team dur­ing the 1990s, while Arm­strong’s then-spouse, Kristin, fre­quently shopped and dined with Betsy.

That friend­ship be­gan to un­ravel in Oc­to­ber of 1996 when Frankie and Betsy, then en­gaged, trav­eled to Arm­strong’s In­di­anapo­lis hospi­tal room to pro­vide com­fort and sup­port af­ter the cylist was di­ag­nosed with tes­tic­u­lar can­cer.

Dur­ing that hospi­tal visit, the An­dreus say they over­heard Arm­strong tell doc­tors that he has used per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs, in­clud­ing testos­terone, hu­man growth hor­mone and EPO. It was the first time that Betsy learned that Arm­strong and his team­mates had used banned sub­stances, and she was deeply dis­turbed by the news, wor­ried that the drug use had fu­eled Arm­strong’s can­cer.

“I’m not f****** mar­ry­ing you if you’re do­ing that s***,” she told Frankie, the man she was sched­uled to marry two months later, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit she pro­vided to USADA. “That’s how he got his can­cer.”

Frankie vowed he would not use per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs, and the cou­ple mar­ried on Dec. 31, 1996. But un­der pres­sure from Arm­strong — who urged him to “get se­ri­ous” about the sport — Frankie used EPO in prepa­ra­tion for the 1999 Tour de France. When Betsy found a ther­mos con­tain­ing EPO in the re­frig­er­a­tor of their home in Nice, she urged Frankie to quit Arm­strong’s team.

The An­dreus and the Arm­strongs re­mained friends, at least un­til 2003, when Ir­ish jour­nal­ist David Walsh, the au­thor of ground­break­ing books and ar­ti­cles about Arm­strong’s dop­ing, con­tacted the An­dreus seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about Arm­strong and the In­di­ana hospi­tal in­ci­dent. Word got back to Arm­strong.

The ten­sion be­tween Arm­strong and the An­dreus ex­ploded af­ter 2006, when the cou­ple was forced to tes­tify in a con­tract dis­pute be­tween Arm­strong and a com­pany called SCA Pro­mo­tions, which had with­held a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar bonus from Arm­strong over al­le­ga­tions of dop­ing. Both An­dreus say they tes­ti­fied that they had heard Arm­strong tell his physi­cians that he had used per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs.

Arm­strong, in his own SCA de­po­si­tion, de­nied he had made the ad­mis­sion. But when asked why the An­dreus would make up the story, his sworn tes­ti­mony was vague. Betsy lied, he said, be­cause “she hates me.” Frankie sided with his wife, the cy­clist added, be­cause he was “try­ing to back up his old lady.”

Arm­strong’s camp later claimed that the An­dreus were bit­ter be­cause Frankie’s con­tract with the Postal Ser­vice was not re­newed af­ter the 2000 sea­son, al­though the USADA re­port con­cludes that Arm­strong had urged Frankie in an email to re­turn to the team in 2001. An­dreu served as the as­sis­tant team di­rec­tor that year and in 2002, and the cou­ples con­tin­ued to travel to­gether in Europe af­ter Frankie re­tired from rac­ing.

“This ev­i­dence pro­vides a strong in­di­ca­tion that Arm­strong in­ten­tion­ally vil­i­fied a long­time friend and his friend’s wife merely to pro­tect him­self,” USADA con­cluded.

The break with Arm­strong turned out to be a bad ca­reer move for Frankie. “From hav­ing been in pro­fes­sional cy­cling for so long I was well aware of many in­ci­dents where

those who spoke about dop­ing too much were os­tra­cized and found it dif­fi­cult to re­tain a job in the sport,” he says in his USADA af­fi­davit. He goes on to say that he has been told “that my pub­lic dis­putes with Lance Arm­strong have made it more dif­fi­cult for oth­ers in the cy­cling in­dus­try to work with me be­cause they fear reprisal from Lance and his as­so­ci­ates. I have never sought to bring Lance down or cause him harm. I have only sought to tell the truth.”

Betsy says she’s proud of her hus­band for stand­ing up to the man who led what USADA calls the most so­phis­ti­cated dop­ing scheme in sports his­tory.

“This has been a great les­son for our kids,” says Betsy, the mother of three chil­dren. “The truth mat­ters. Don’t give in to bul­lies. Don’t do some­thing wrong, even if ev­ery­one else is do­ing it. The choices you make have con­se­quences.”

EMMA O’REILLY

The glow­ing cus­tomer re­views on The Body Clinic’s web­site in­clude one from for­mer Olympic cy­clist Vic­to­ria Pendle­ton, in which the British na­tive ex­tols Body Clinic mas­sage ther­a­pist Emma O’Reilly.

The praise is a far cry from the blis­ter­ing re­views of O’Reilly by one of her for­mer clients — Lance Arm­strong. In 1996, long be­fore she be­gan to make a quiet liv­ing at The Body Clinic, lo­cated about 10 miles from Manch­ester, Eng­land, O’Reilly was hired as a “soigneur” for the U.S. Postal cy­cling team.

Ac­cord­ing to the USADA re­port, O’Reilly was well-re­spected by the cy­clists, a ben­e­fit that af­forded her a front seat into the sport’s dop­ing cul­ture. She tes­ti­fied about Arm­strong’s dop­ing in 1998 and 1999. Ac­cord­ing to the USADA re­port, O’Reilly helped Arm­strong cover up bruis­ing from an in­jec­tion be­fore the 1999 Tour de France, the first of Arm­strong’s record seven con­sec­u­tive ti­tles. Dur­ing that same Tour, Arm­strong tested pos­i­tive for cor­ti­cos­teroids.

O’Reilly, ac­cord­ing to the USADA re­port, was in the room when Arm­strong and other team of­fi­cials de­vel­oped a plan to cir­cum­vent the pos­i­tive test: a team doc­tor, Luis Gar­cia del Moral, would back­date a pre­scrip­tion for cor­ti­sone cream and Arm­strong would claim it was used to treat sad­dle sores.

Af­ter­ward, Arm­strong told O’Reilly, “Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down.”

Her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ex­panded to in­clude trans­port­ing drugs for cy­clists and get­ting rid of the ev­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to her af­fi­davit.

Dis­mayed by the dop­ing cul­ture in the sport, O’Reilly re­signed from her U.S. Postal job in 2000. It wasn’t un­til 2003, when she was paid to help with the book, “L.A. Confidential: The Se­crets of Lance Arm­strong,” writ­ten by Walsh and Pierre Ballester and pub­lished in 2004, that she be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence the wrath of Arm­strong. He sued O’Reilly for li­bel in the wake of the book’s pub­li­ca­tion and at­tacked her cred­i­bil­ity.

“Once my in­volve­ment in the (book) project be­came known, Lance wasted no time at­tack­ing me and my rep­u­ta­tion,” O’Reilly said in her af­fi­davit. “Lance also tried to dis­credit me by pub­licly re­fer­ring to me as a pros­ti­tute and an al­co­holic. The law­suits against me were dropped or set­tled in 2006, but the dam­age Lance caused to my rep­u­ta­tion still re­mains.”

O’Reilly has re­ceived an out­pour­ing of sup­port via Twit­ter in the last two weeks, some­thing that has bol­stered her out­look on her fu­ture. “I would like to say a mas­sive heart­felt thanks to all of you who have tweeted your sup­port to me I’ve been so touched & heart­ened by you all,” she tweeted Thurs­day.

THE TEAM­MATES

Ac­cord­ing to the USADA re­port, the num­ber of for­mer team­mates who were dis­cour­aged not to tes­tify or in­tim­i­dated went well be­yond Frankie An­dreu. They in­cluded Ge­orge Hin­capie, who rode with Arm­strong in all seven of his Tour de France vic­to­ries and who was asked by Arm­strong to re­main in Europe to avoid or de­lay tes­ti­fy­ing. In­stead, Hin­capie told of two in­ci­dents when Arm­strong pro­vided him with EPO; Filippo Simeoni, told by Arm­strong at the Tour de France in 2004, “You made a mis­take when you tes­ti­fied about (Arm­strong’s for­mer doc­tor Michele) Fer­rari. . I can de­stroy you.” Arm­strong then made a “zip the lips” sign caught on video; Jonathan Vaugh­ters, whose text mes­sages to Frankie An­dreu about dop­ing on the U.S. Postal team be­came an ex­hibit in the SCA case, and whose ca­reer was threat­ened; Floyd Lan­dis, ac­cused of be­ing a liar and un­sta­ble once he tes­ti­fied about Arm­strong’s dop­ing; and Tyler Hamil­ton, whose book “The Se­cret Race,” de­tail­ing the hid­den world of dop­ing, was re­leased this sum­mer and who was phys­i­cally ac­costed in 2011 by Arm­strong in an Aspen res­tau­rant af­ter he be­gan co­op­er­at­ing with law en­force­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Hamil­ton’s tes­ti­mony, Arm­strong told him, “When you’re on the wit­ness stand, we are go­ing to f------ tear you apart. You are go­ing to look like a f------ idiot. I’m go­ing to make your life a liv­ing . . . f------ hell.”

Levi Leipheimer felt the ham­mer, too. Shortly af­ter he tes­ti­fied be­fore a grand jury in Oc­to­ber of 2010 about his own dop­ing as well as Arm­strong’s, Leipheimer was seated next to the Texan and seven-time Tour de France cham­pion at a din­ner.

Ac­cord­ing to the USADA re­port, Arm­strong texted Leipheimer’s wife, Odessa Gunn, with the omi­nous mes­sage, “run don’t walk.”

The USADA re­port says that Arm­strong had not com­mu­ni­cated with Gunn “for sev­eral years,” and that she felt the text was “threat­en­ing.”

Leipheimer said he felt os­tra­cized when he was a mem­ber of the Ra­dioShack cy­cling team — which Arm­strong had helped found — dur­ing the 2011 sea­son. Leipheimer, a for­mer team­mate of Arm­strong’s on U.S. Postal, said he heard com­ments from team em­ploy­ees that in­cluded, “I never for­get. One day I will pay back,” and that the team’s di­rec­tor, Jo­han Bruyneel, said Ra­dioShack would not re-sign Leipheimer be­cause “he tes­ti­fied to the grand jury in the Lance Arm­strong in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

THE DE­FEN­DANTS

If you’re find­ing it dif­fi­cult to sym­pa­thize with those — in­clud­ing many re­porters — who cowed be­fore the threats of Arm­strong’s army of white-shoe lawyers and high-end agents and pub­li­cists, con­sider that Arm­strong was prob­a­bly the most liti­gious ath­lete in the his­tory of sports.

He set a prece­dent for other ath­letes who would go on to use gorilla tac­tics to at­tempt to in­tim­i­date the me­dia or si­lence ac­cusers.

As the Daily News wrote in 2008, Arm­strong un­leashed a shot­gun blast of lit­i­ga­tion at vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one in­volved with “L.A. Confidential: Les Se­crets de Lance Arm­strong.” Just as the book was hit­ting shelves in Europe, Arm­strong sued the authors, the pub­lisher, the sources (in­clud­ing Emma O’Reilly), a mag­a­zine that ran an ex­cerpt and the Sun­day Times of Lon­don, the British news­pa­per that ran a pre­view of the book. Arm­strong an­nounced the suit at a splashy Mary­land press con­fer­ence on June 15, 2004, then qui­etly dropped it in 2005, with­draw­ing his claims be­fore a trial could be­gin, a tac­tic sim­i­lar to the ones ath­letes Roger Cle­mens and Shane Mosley would later use against their own ac­cusers.

“In France, we say it had l’ef­fet d’an­nonce,” Paris at­tor­ney Thibault de Mont­brial, who de­fended the book’s pub­lisher and authors, told The News. “He makes the an­nounce­ment, but when the emo­tion goes away, no one re­al­izes that he didn’t go to court.”

Arm­strong’s mes­sage was heard: his army of lawyers ef­fec­tively scared away Amer­i­can pub­lish­ers from trans­lat­ing the French-lan­guage book.

“In a sense, it was an ef­fec­tive play,” Walsh said then. “The Amer­i­can pub­lish­ers were fright­ened. Why would you take on a book that you knew was be­ing sued in France?”

Arm­strong had also filed a bevy of suits in France and even ini­ti­ated a spe­cial emer­gency hear­ing with a French court in Paris, where he tried to get a dis­claimer in­serted into the book call­ing its al­le­ga­tions defam­a­tory. The judge sided with the pub­lish­ers, hit­ting Arm­strong with a small fine for abus­ing the French le­gal sys­tem.

“Our lawyer told the judge it would be the death of in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism,” Walsh said. “It would have been very con­ve­nient for all the rogues of the world to ig­nore un­com­fort­able ques­tions and then just si­lence their ac­cusers after­wards.”

Arm­strong with­drew all of his French defama­tion cases shortly be­fore they were to go to trial in the fall of 2005.

Now, the Sun­day Times is con­sid­er­ing fight­ing back. Fol­low­ing the re­lease of the USADA re­port, the pa­per said it is “con­sid­er­ing tak­ing ac­tion to re­cover money spent on a li­bel case Arm­strong brought and to pur­sue him for fraud.”

If Arm­strong finds him­self wor­ried about how the other de­fen­dants in his many law­suits are view­ing the USADA re­port, it would cer­tainly be un­der­stand­able. Per­haps he’s afraid they’ll sue.

FRANKIE AN­DREU LEVI LEIPHEIMER

EMMA O’REILLY

GREG & KATHY LE­MOND

FLOYD LAN­DIS TYLER HAMIL­TON

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