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Friday, June 30, 2006
Wife of Armstrong's ex-teammate stands by testimony


NEW YORK -- The wife of Lance Armstrong's former cycling teammate insisted Friday she told the truth when she testified under oath that the seven-times Tour de France winner admitted taking banned drugs.

"My testimony is honest and truthful and accurate and I stand by it," Betsy Andreu, wife of former U.S. Postal Service cyclist Frankie Andreu, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

That was the only statement Andreu made for the record, leaving response to Armstrong's strong denials and challenges regarding the credibility of her testimony to her lawyer.

"The Armstrong camp is continuing to vilify (my clients), in the press, through TV, radio, and the Internet," said lawyer Adam Paskoff.

"We're simply trying to clarify the record to uphold the testimony of Frankie and Betsy Andreu."

The Andreus testified eight months ago under subpoena in a civil suit brought by Armstrong against SCA Insurance, which refused to pay a $5 million policy taken out by team owners to pay a bonus to Armstrong for winning the 2004 Tour de France.

Betsy Andreu testified that when visiting Armstrong in Indiana University hospital after his cancer surgery in 1996, he told a doctor he had used EPO (erythropoietin), testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone.

Armstrong, who retired last July after his record seventh Tour victory, has always denied taking banned substances and described allegations in the testimony as reported last week in French newspaper Le Monde as "stale, unfounded and untrue."

"They are not terribly fond of their credibility being attacked," Paskoff said about the Andreus.

"They never had a beef with Armstrong. They had no position in the outcome of his private lawsuits," the lawyer said, adding that the Andreus initially resisted giving testimony.

"The Andreus were subpoenaed by a Texas arbitraton panel. We went to the parties and said Texas does not have jurisdiction upon the Andreus. They will not testify," Paskoff explained, noting the Andreus lived in Michigan.

"One of the parties took the Texas subpoena and went into a Michigan court ... that subpoena was legitimate and had binding power on the Andreus."

The outcome of the civil suit was a victory for Armstrong, the Texan disclosing last week the company had been ordered to pay $7.5 million.

The subpoenaed testimony was supposed to be confidential, said Paskoff, who called the leaks "extremely disturbing."

"That's very upsetting to us," he said. "We tried to follow the rules and no one else seems to want to do that.

"We're not a party to this arbitration. We had no stake in it. We couldn't care if Lance Armstrong won or lost or if SCA won or lost. The Andreus were dragged into this."

Paskoff said Armstrong had attacked the Andreus by saying those conversations never happened.

"I would question the accuracy of his testimony," Paskoff said. "That was three days after brain surgery. Presumably he was under a lot of medications, and he's talking about what happened for sure, or did not happen in a hospital room?"

Armstrong said in a statement a week ago: "The event reported in France never happened, and the evidence presented to the panel proved it never happened."