(NaturalNews) For years, professional cycling experts and insiders said Lance Armstrong was cheating. They said he was doping. They said he was guilty.
No one believed them. They were shunned by an adoring public, written off as crackpots or even worse.
Now, all of those voices who pointed an accusing finger at the sport’s once most famous, now most infamous competitor have been vindicated.
“Eleven years of bullying and threats,” Kathy LeMond, the wife of cyclist Greg LeMond, one of Armstrong’s earliest targets, wrote on Twitter. “LA is now the Greatest Fraud in the History of Sports.”
Such vindication may also have grave financial implications for Armstrong, CNN reported.
For example, a Texas insurance company that refused to pay Armstrong a $5 million bonus for winning a Tour de France once, because of reports that he had doped, wound up having to pay not only the bonus but Armstrong’s legal costs.
Once trashed, now the whistleblowers find peace in the truth
When all was said and done, SCA Promotions paid out $12 million over the years. Now, the firm is “considering all legal options” to recoup its money.
Even the media is looking for a piece of Armstrong. London’s Sunday Times is considering a suit against the disgraced cyclist over a libel case he brought against the paper that resulted in a costly award.
The trouble brewing for Armstrong comes after the International Cycling Union, the sport’s international governing body, agreed with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to take away Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles.
The stripping of his titles was the climax of a tumultuous few weeks for Armstrong, whose free fall from grace began with the release of hundreds of pages of testimony and other evidence detailing Armstrong’s involvement in what the anti-doping agency called the most sophisticated doping program in the history of the sport.
The report included a number of damaging elements, including affidavits from notable critics of Armstrong including critics Frankie and Betsy Andreu, Tyler Hamilton, Emma O’Reilly and Floyd Landis, all of whom spoke out against Armstrong at one time or another and, in a variety of ways, paid the price for doing so.
Fellow cyclist Frankie Andreu was once a close friend of Armstrong, but he had a falling out with him after his wife, Betsy, began to cooperate with a reporter writing a book about doping allegations against the serial Tour winner.
According to the Andreus, they were present in a hospital room in Indianapolis when Armstrong admitted to a physician treating him for cancer in 1996 that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Later, both of them testified about what they had seen and heard during the arbitration case against Armstrong filed by a company that sought to avoid paying out bonuses to him for victories during which he had been accused of doping.
They would pay for that decision, Frankie Andreu said.
“I have been told that my public disputes with Lance Armstrong have made it more difficult for others in the cycling industry to work with me because they fear reprisal from Lance and his associates,” he said in his USADA affidavit.
He went on to say that his wife was, at one point, pressured heavily into signing a statement recanting the story. When she refused to do so, she was “vilified.”
“I became, in Lance’s words, ‘bitter’ and ‘vindictive’ and ‘jealous,’” she said in her affidavit.
O’Reilly, once Armstrong’s personal assistant, said things began to finally get easier for her once the USADA’s report came out.
‘Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down’
Like fellow whistleblower Betsy Andreu, O’Reilly first told her story in the French book “L.A. Confidentiel,” which was co-written by sports reporter David Walsh of London’s Sunday Times.
She told the anti-doping agency she went on a secret trip to pick up and drop off what she believed were doping products for Armstrong. Continuing, she said she was in the room when Armstrong and two other team officials developed a plan “to backdate a prescription for corticosteroids for a saddle sore to explain a positive steroid test result during the 1999 Tour de France,” CNN reported.
“Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down,” Armstrong told her after the meeting, she says.
Speaking after the release of the report, O’Reilly said she endured “two-and-a-half to three years of hell” for speaking out.
“I got subpoenaed, I got … kind of ostracized and just the stress levels … and all for telling the truth. As well as feeling feelings of guilt because I knew then that there were certain people now who would not speak to me again, and have never spoken to me again, and it’s a shame because I lost those friendships,” she says.
Walsh said he took his share of abuse too but it was worth it to expose Armstrong in the end.
“It’s been a good journey because the truth was never hard to find in this story. You only had to be interested in looking. What made it interesting was how many people Armstrong had watching his back,” he wrote.
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