Andreus vs Armstrong kicks off again

Couple speak to federal investigator in Landis claim probe

by Mark Appleton   September 2, 2010  

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The conversation may or may not have taken place 14 years ago, but what happened in a hospital room at the Indiana University Medical Center where Lance Armstrong was being treated for cancer in 1996 continues to be the subject of heated debate.

Betsy Andreu, wife of former Armstrong team mate Frankie, has repeatedly claimed that Armstrong, when questioned, told cancer doctors in the hospital room that day that he had used a cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs. Now she says that recordings which add weight to her version of events are in the hands of US federal investigators. Armstrong has vehemently denied that the hospital conversation took place and his lawyers maintain that of the people present at the time, only the Andreus claim to have heard the alleged confession.

One of those other people  was Stephanie McIlvain, then a representative of long-time Armstrong sponsor, Oakley Inc, who did indeed testify under oath that she did not remember hearing the conversation take place.

Her testimony was provided when the hospital room allegations first surfaced during the legal dispute over a $5 million win bonus due to Armstrong by marketing company SCA Promotions for his sixth Tour de France win. That claim was finally settled in Armstrong's favour in 2006.

Now Betsy Andreu has told the Los Angeles Times that US Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky who is leading an investigation into the existence of doping in professional cycling in the US  - including the specific allegations made by Floyd Landis - is in possession of voicemail recordings left on her answering machine by McIlvain.

According to Andreu, the tapes indicate that McIlvain lied when testifying during the SCA case. Andreu says the voicemails are consistent with other telephone conversations she had with McIlvain during which, according to the LA Times report,  she claims McIlvain apologised to her for lying about her previous testimony.

The LA Times quotes sources close to the investigation as stating that McIlvain has now been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury.

In response to the latest developments, Mark Fabiani, a member of Armstrong's legal team, told the LA Times: “The other six to seven people in that hospital room either say it didn't happen or have no recollection of any such conversation. The Andreus are the only persons who say it happened.”