One of Lance Armstrong’s biggest critics today dismissed the former cyclist’s public show of contrition, labelling him “delusional”.
Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former team-mate who testified he had admitted to doping in a hospital in 1996 and was subsequently labelled “crazy” by the Texan, said he does not understand “the magnitude of what he’s done”.
In the second part of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, he insisted he had stuck to a pact made with first wife Kristin that he would not dope during his comeback to cycling, was tearful when addressing the fact his 13-year-old son Max defended him and said he did not believe his doping contributed to his cancer.
But he also spoke of lost earnings through sponsorship totalling £75million and said he felt he “deserved” to able to compete again at some point in the future.
Andreu was unimpressed.
“Boohoo,” she told CNN. “He’s not getting it. What about Greg LeMond’s bike company that was completely destroyed? It doesn’t make sense. What about Scott Mercier not having a career? Christophe Bassons not having a career? Other guys who didn’t want to do what he wanted them to do not having a career?
“You can’t put a price on opportunity lost and we’re not even talking millions of dollars, we’re just talking about people who just want to make a living so they can pay a mortgage and save some money after.”
Three-time Tour de France winner LeMond’s company LeMond cycles fell into dispute with distributors Trek, Armstrong’s sponsors, after he spoke out publicly against doping. Bassons and Mercier were effectively forced out of cycling because they refused to dope.
Andreu continued: “So many people in the saga have been hurt. Greg LeMond for example, [Armstrong’s] children, people who defended him. He hurt the sport of cycling. He caused it irreparable damage.
“I hope that he will testify to USADA and tell the truth, and the right thing can be done.
“It can’t be underestimated how much he has hurt people and I don’t think he really understands the emotional toll, the mental toll, the financial toll. But he has to pay the price, some way, somehow.
“In a way I don’t think he understands the magnitude of what he’s done.
“He’s trying to reason this out. He’s just not being logical. I think he’s being a little delusional.”
Andreu also said that when Armstrong contacted her and husband Frankie recently, he seemed more genuine than he appeared in the Winfrey interview.
“When Frankie and I spoke with him we felt that he was sincere and he was genuine,” said Andreu. “The way he was on the phone with us was far different to how he’s portraying himself on TV.
“I don’t know if it’s be because he was very nervous, he’s trying to be stoic or have a stiff upper lip but I think it would have been a great benefit to him to let the guard down.
“Part of the problem is telling the truth and being contrite, apologising...it’s a new concept to Lance.”
After years of denials, Armstrong has confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour de France victories. He was stripped of all results from August 1, 1998 and banned from sport for life after refusing to cooperate with USADA’s investigation.
After the first part of the interview was aired yesterday, Andreu spoke emotionally to criticise Armstrong for failing to confirm the 1996 hospital admission had taken place.
“He owed it to me,” she said. “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.”
Michele Verroken, former director of ethics at UK Sport, told BBC Breakfast she believes a life ban is an “absolutely appropriate” punishment for Armstrong.
“Let’s not forget this was calculated, sophisticated, in its way of getting round the testing programme, so sometimes it’s important to say ’enough is enough’, and a life ban should be applied,” she said.
“Investigation of any case is absolutely important, but in this case, surely, a life ban – and we can see the impact a life ban will have – a life ban is absolutely appropriate.”
Ms Verroken also suggested that Armstrong did not show enough remorse for the sportsmen he had cheated out of victories.
“I have no doubt that he was showing how remorseful he was for his position, but we have to always understand there was going to be collateral damage.
“It just was interesting to see how much of it focused on him and his immediate family.
“But in actual fact he didn’t show the same level of remorse for all those other cyclists that he’d actually cheated out of their own achievements,” she said.
Verroken later told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think a lifetime ban is the only option and plea bargaining isn’t acceptable.
“People around him helped and it’s very frustrating not to know who was involved in this major conspiracy. Perhaps they may come forward, only through that happening can we protect others.
“It was a very carefully constructed interview and he’s not going to tell the truth where that’s going to have a further impact on him, possibly financially, so we’ve only got part of the story.
“I don’t think he should be let back into organised sport. That would be giving in to people who have cheated us. We have to make this kind of activity unacceptable.”