By Betsy Andreu
As long as Lance is on his reconciliation tour, I think it’s only appropriate the tour should have its own theme song. I’m thinking of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tell me Lies”. Maybe not sweet little lies or just “one big lie” but a continuation of lies.
In a desperate attempt to do whatever he can to mitigate the damage he’s done to himself with a lifetime ban competing in sports at an elite level, Lance is reaching out to whomever will listen to him. He wants to show how very sorry he is for decimating people like me, Frankie, Greg LeMond, Mike Anderson, David Walsh, Emma, JV, Travis and USADA that he has only reached out to his former soigneur Emma – over wine and with cameras rolling just to show how sorry he really is.
And what about the rest of us?
Lance’s reconciliation tour, aka the I-really-want-to-compete-at-an-elite-level-again tour, is nothing more than a charade to back up his call for a version of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee that will exonerate him. I really didn’t get the gist of it until I talked to Joe Harris, a consultant who has applied the principles of truth and reconciliation in business, and co-authored a “roadmap” for repairing pro cycling with Steve Maxwell, an economist and contributor to VeloNews.
He explained that a truth and reconciliation process, when done correctly, is never run by the agency who will itself be investigated. In this case, the UCI. Just as MLB hired the independent investigator George Mitchell, so cycling must do the same. There must be complete autonomy from the UCI, who would have to divest all of the oversight to an independent person. Without this independence, the committee could be swayed by personal agendas, and testimony could be filtered so that certain people get preferential treatment, even if they don’t deserve it.
Where would this person come from? An agency well versed in transitional law such as the International Center for Transitional Justice in South Africa, New York University Law School’s Justice in Transition, or the Carter Foundation could recommend a legal scholar who would focus on the societal healing and international rebuilding of the immense damage caused to the sport by such corruption. As Joe so eloquently explained to me, I agree with this premise. We certainly can’t afford to have another farcical Vrijman Report. Joe and Steve’s website www.theouterline.com explains it far better than I can even begin to.
What I don’t understand, however, is why Lance needs a TRC in order to tell the truth. Nothing is preventing him from meeting with the fine folks at USADA. He declined to go under oath for The London Sunday Times and Acceptance Insurance, yet, he can still do so with SCA and the U.S. government. He’ll have the freedom to tell all; his testimony under oath is protected as long as he’s not lying. No brainer, right?
Lance would have you think that it’s all the UCI’s fault. I won’t argue that they’re at fault but where’s Lance’s culpability here? Who helped him collude with the UCI? I guarantee you, he didn’t do it on his own. A TRC unchecked with no accountability can do more harm than good. Under oath, Lance is held accountable.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Nothing has changed with Lance. He is still desperately trying to control the narrative. The problem for him is not many are listening. I know firsthand he is trying hard to sully me and Frankie not to mention Travis, Greg, JV, and his most recent target, Alex Gibney. Funny thing is he’s going off the record hoping that by merely telling the lie the seed is planted. After all, it worked before. I can’t tell you how many people told me they thought I was crazy thanks to lance. Look at the damage done to Greg’s reputation from people who still tout him as nuts. What about Travis and usada’s famous witch hunt?
After Emma and Lance’s very public meeting, so many contacted me asking if I was next. Would I meet with him? Sure why not? As long as Travis Tygart is present and Lance is bound under oath why wouldn’t I? I actually invite him to meet with me. You think he’ll agree to those terms? I’ll stick with water or coffee and no cameras to film it by the way.
After Oprah, I was willing to give him a chance; I wanted there to be a reconciliation. I wanted nothing more than to put this behind me, use it as a cautionary tale and forge ahead touting clean sport especially for kids whether it be through USADA’s truesport.org initiative or via the media.
Let’s face it, Lance’s childhood was awful; the child within was never healed. It doesn’t excuse the monster of the person he became but it damn well helps to explain it. I was being told he was using me, Frankie didn’t hold back on that opinion. I didn’t want to listen. After all, Lance said he was sorry. I felt it was only fair that I give him a chance to prove that he meant it.
That conversation before Oprah, he told me he wanted to meet with me and Frankie face to face. He told me he’d done a lot of bad things to a lot of good people. Healing and forgiving is a process. For Lance, telling the truth or learning to tell the truth was part of that process. After Oprah, we sporadically kept in touch. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. I was slowly beginning the painful realization that his talk was cheap.
When I went to Austin in April as part of a an anti-doping panel, Lance and I had agreed to meet. I was skeptical he would actually follow through. “Are you going to skedaddle when I get to town?” I emailed him. “Please,” was his response, “I’ll be here.”
Well, as Frankie predicted, he backed out. He and the others were right: he used me. I’m embarrassed to say I fell for it. What benefit it had been for him to have his most ardent and vocal critic willing to give him a chance. In doing so, I kept quiet and I didn’t call him out on his lack of action. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt when I’d talk to journalists. Like so many Lance used for his own benefit, I too became a pawn in his reconciliation tour. Frankie being that wonderful sensitive husband he is said, “I told you so. He’s a liar. Duh!”
Consider these 3 instances:
* 3 days before we were deposed in the SCA case in October 2005, Lance calls Frankie for the first time in almost 2 years. In his deposition, Lance said he called Frankie just to say hello. Frankie testified he called to talk about our imminent depositions as well as Kathy LeMond’s deposition.
* The day before he tapes Oprah in January 2013, he starts his reconciliation tour by calling people. Frankie and I are the only ones who spoke with him. Of course, Oprah asks him if he’s called people to apologize. Voila! He can say he talked to us.
* The weekend before his big Monday hearing in D.C. regarding the whistleblower case (November 18, 2013), he meets with Emma – and agrees to go on camera for the world to see how very sorry he is. It just happens to be the weekend before his big court date.
Do you see a pattern here? Just the other day Lance tweeted that he has “repeatedly” told me and Frankie he’s sorry.
He’s still lying.
There’s a reason why. When a reformed kool-aid drinker, Patrick Dixon, told me he told Lance he should do what it takes to make amends with me and Frankie, Lance told him to “F@#& off!” This was just a few short months ago after Lance refused to meet with me in April. You get the gist.
Lance didn’t meet with me in April because he wasn’t authentic with me in January. If Lance could somehow understand the damage he’s done to people on a personal level, the businesseses he’s defrauded, the destruction of the sport itself on a global level, he’d realize that it’s not possible to allow him back in sport.
Lance should ask a very simple question: what must I do to rectify the damage I’ve done? In our case, all he had to do was meet with us - nothing more nothing less.
He should be opening up his checkbook to SCA and asking,”How much do I write the check for?”
He should be flying to New Zealand and get down on his knees to Mike Anderson and beg for forgiveness.
Maybe with Kathy and Greg, he could tell them what Trek knew and offer to pay them for their bike company he helped destroy.
How about paying USADA back - the anti-doping agency he tried to destroy. It’s really not that difficult on what he should do.
It’s only difficult if the intent to do good is not there.
A pathological liar doesn’t all of the sudden become a truth teller. Maybe he just switches from telling one big lie to a lot of little lies.
(I was not paid to write this.)