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“Lance who?” Armstrong accused of lying over role in car crash

Disgraced ex-cyclist faces court on two charges - police say girlfriend initially took blame before admitting he was driving - but denies he was drunk

Lance Armstrong will appear in court on  has been charged with two traffic violations by police in Aspen, Colorado, where he has a home, following an incident in which his girlfriend Anna Hansen reportedly claimed initially that she was at the wheel of their car.

According to the Aspen Daily News, police claim that the disgraced cyclist, banned from sport for life in 2012 and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, hit two parked vehicles while driving his SUV, with allegations that he may also have been drinking.

The newspaper adds that Hansen, who has been in a relationship with Armstrong since 2008, also lied about whether he had been drinking on the evening of 29 December, when the incident took place.

Hansen and Armstrong, who also have a house in Austin, Texas, had been at a party on the night in question, with a local resident filing a police report the following day saying that two vehicles parked outside his home had been damaged, with the driver failing to stop.

The vehicle, traced the same day the report was made and discovered to have damage to the front end, was registered in Armstrong’s name, and that afternoon Hansen met with police detective Rick Magnuson and community safety officer Robert Schafer outside her house.

In a police report, Detective Magnuson wrote: “Hansen told us that she was driving home from an Aspen Art Museum party the previous night. Hansen told me that she drove the GMC home because ‘Lance had a little bit to drink so I was driving. I was not drinking.’”

She claimed that she had lost control of the SUV before colliding with the parked cars and that after stopping around the corner, she returned on foot and told the homeowner what had happened, saying she would foot the bill for any damage.

According to the police report, “Hansen added that she believed that she completed her legal obligation after providing her information to [the homeowner].

“I informed Hansen that she was required to immediately notify the police of an accident and return to or remain at the scene. Hansen told me that she was unaware of this law.”

She was issued with two tickets, one for failure to report an accident, the other for exceeding the safe speed limit, but the detective harboured suspicions about her version of events.

But both tickets were transferred to Armstrong on 12 January after both the homeowner and another witness, an employee of a car valet firm involved in the event, provided different accounts of who was driving.

According to Detective Magnuson’s report, the valet “told me that he recognized Lance Armstrong and Anna Hansen. He told me that he assisted Hansen to the passenger side of the GMC, and Armstrong entered the driver’s side and drove away from the St. Regis.”

That statement was also taken on 29 January, prompting the detective to quiz Hansen again that day, when she insisted that she had been shopping and on returning to the vehicle told her husband to get into the vehicle’s passenger seat.

But the homeowner outside whose house the incident took place said: “A woman, well-dressed, 30ish, blond … came running around the corner in her high heels in 6 inches of packed snow, which was pretty impressive; she ran directly to us and said, ‘We’re so sorry, we came around the corner and slipped on the ice, and we hit your cars.’

“She said, ‘I’m Anna, we’re the Armstrongs, my husband’s Lance [she and Armstrong are not married – Ed], he was just driving too fast around the corner or something’.”

Magnuson interviewed Hansen again at Pitkin County Courthouse on New Year’s Eve, when she is claimed to have said that she had not in fact been driving.

Asked who was, she said: “Lance.”

“Lance who?” responded the detective.

“Armstrong,” she replied.

The officer’s statement continued, “I asked, ‘And Lance was driving the car when it crashed into those two other cars?,’” to which Hansen is alleged to have replied in the affirmative.

The report went on: “I asked Hansen if Armstrong asked her to take the blame for the accident once they got home.

“She replied, ‘No, that was a joint decision, and, um, you know we’ve had our family name smeared over every paper in the world in the last couple of years and honestly, I’ve got teenagers, I just wanted to protect my family because I thought, ‘Gosh, Anna Hansen hit some cars, it’s not going to show up in the papers, but Lance Armstrong hit some cars, it’s going to be a national story.’”

But Hansen denied that Armstrong was drunk, with the detective’s report quoting her as saying: “He was not intoxicated, and that was um, you know, I’m sorry I lied to you that morning but I was trying to make [it] sound like, well, I was driving because that was, just, I don’t know … I was just trying to make something up at that time.”

No charges were filed against her for making a false report, with deputy district attorney Andrea Bryan telling the Aspen Daily News: “In circumstances such as this, where the witness was subsequently and nearly immediately cooperative with law enforcement, remorseful, and came forward with the truth, it would be incredibly rare for our office to charge the witness with false reporting.

“The policy of our office is to encourage all witnesses to tell the truth, and if witnesses lived in fear of being prosecuted for coming forward after making a mistake, we would rarely, if ever, get the full truth from our victims or witnesses.”

Armstrong is due in court in connection with the incident on 17 March, and when contacted by the Aspen Daily News his lawyer declined to give a comment and said her client did not wish to speak with the authorities about it.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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