Betsy and Frankie Andreu, pictured, had testified against Lance Armstrong of doping in 2005. Photo courtesy of Joe Papp, Wikimedia Commons

Betsy Andreu's faith won out in Lance Armstrong’s cycling doping scandal

By 
  • February 26, 2017

Betsy Andreu has two prayer cards — one for St. Padre Pio and one for St. Therese of Lisieux. They are crumpled and worn, but each crease is a souvenir of a time when she was tested by the world.

“Every single day, I just prayed ‘God, use me to get the truth out,’ ” said Andreu. “It was really hard. I didn’t understand why, but I persisted and I hoped to God the truth comes out.”

Andreu found herself in the middle of a media storm in 2005 when she and her husband, Frankie, testified that champion road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong had admitted to his cancer doctors in 1996 that he had been doping with EPO (Erythropoietin), growth hormone and steroids.

At the time, Armstrong vehemently denied these claims. He swore under oath it never happened and attacked the Andreus for perpetrating these claims.

“I was up against this beloved athlete who had become a famous celebrity,” said Andreu. “And because of that, you had all these fans who just adored him… When people are telling you ‘Kill yourself because you’re a loser because you must be the bitter, lying, fat bitch that he says you are,’ you have to have some pretty thick skin.”

She and her husband endured very public character assassinations from Armstrong, his sponsors and his fans. But even amidst the darkest of times, she stood firm in herself, in her husband and in her faith in God.

This is the testimony, Andreu said, she hopes to share with the women who will attend this year’s Dynamic Women of Faith conference in Mississauga, Ont. This annual women’s conference, which takes place on March 25 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, is organized by the Catholic Moms Group ministry in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

“I really was drawn to her not because she was a professional Catholic speaker. She’s not that. She’s a stay-at-home mom who took on the world with her faith and she wasn’t afraid of the repercussions,” said Dorothy Pilarski, founder and executive director of the Dynamic Women of Faith conference.

betsy andreu webBetsy Andreu. Photo screenshot courtesy of WADA via YouTube [

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Armstrong, who had won the Tour de France seven straight years (1999-2005), eventually admitted to doping offences in 2013 and was banned for life. Armstrong has not reconciled with the Andreus.

The most important message Andreu said she could impart on the women and girls at the conference is the importance of choosing the right man to be their husband.

“The biggest risk, I think, anybody will make in their life is choosing their husband or choosing their wife,” she said. “You better make sure you do a really good job because there are a lot of ups and downs in marriages.”

Andreu said she could not have endured the public backlash if she did not have the support of her husband.

Frankie faced immense pressure to dope in order to stay competitive in the sport, but Andreu stood firm against it. Andreu gave her husband an ultimatum and said she was ready to leave with their child if he did not stop doping.

Andreu said Armstrong had Frankie fired from the team in 2000 when he refused to continue doping. She said Armstrong also made sure that no other team would take him.

“Lance couldn’t fathom the fact that Frankie chose me over him,” said Andreu. “Lance couldn’t fathom why I couldn’t be like the other wives because it afforded them with such a luxurious lifestyle at a young age. Because it was wrong.”

Andreu said everyone blamed her for the end of Frankie’s cycling career. Very few family members openly supported the Andreus emotionally.

“I don’t want to say to women ‘Everything’s going to be great, just trust in Jesus,’ ” said Andreu. “Maybe I can offer some hope to women out there... if you married the right guy, he’ll make the right decision and he’ll stand by you.”

Andreu said that she doesn’t want to portray herself as a perfect Christian because she is not. She hopes her testimony about being strong in her faith can encourage other women to do the same.

Andreu will be the keynote speaker at both the Dynamic Women of Faith conference (March 25) and the Calling All Girls mother-daughter event (March 24).

For more information about both conferences, visit DynamicWomenFaith.com or CatholicMomsGroup.com.

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