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Wife of former Armstrong teammate speaks to feds

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

LOS ANGELES -- The wife of one of Lance Armstrong's former teammates said Wednesday she has spoken to a federal agent investigating the seven-time Tour de France winner and other cyclists.

Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, said she has talked with Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky about Armstrong, but declined to discuss details. She said in a phone interview that her husband has also talked to the agent.

Novitzky did not give her any details about the investigation or who else had been contacted, she said. Other Armstrong teammates, including riders George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton, have reportedly confirmed that they have been contacted by investigators, but they have also declined to give details.

Betsy Andreu has claimed that Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in a hospital room in 1996 while battling cancer. The allegations have surfaced before, including in a lawsuit involving Tour winner and Armstrong critic Greg LeMond, who has said he turned over 70,000 pages of records in the case to investigators.

Armstrong's team met on Tuesday with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, which is handling the inquiry.

"We will respect the privacy of our discussions with the government, but we can confirm that a meeting occurred yesterday to begin a meaningful dialogue with the government about this matter," Armstrong attorney Mark Fabiani said in a statement.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined comment.

Armstrong vehemently denies doping, and he and his attorneys note that the cyclist has never failed a drug test though he's been tested hundreds of times. Armstrong has also denied Betsy Andreu's version of the hospital room discussion.

"This old, discredited story is being regurgitated by people trying to legitimize what is clearly a fishing expedition that is wasting millions in taxpayer money and misusing FDA resources," Fabiani said. "The hospital story was long ago proven to be fictional -- by a sworn statement from Lance's doctor, by hundreds of pages of medical records, and by the others in the room that day."

Andreu said she expects the federal inquiry to show that she has been truthful about the incident.

"Lance pays his PR firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote himself and to smear those who speak the truth about him," she said.

"I have something that they don't have and that's the truth," she said. "And I am overly confident that will come about. It will show all along I have said nothing but the truth."

Andreu's contact with federal investigators was first reported Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times.

Novitzky and a federal prosecutor have been handling an inquiry into allegations of organized doping in professional cycling, including whether Armstrong and members of his United States Postal Service team may have been involved. The team won six of Armstrong's record seven Tour de France victories after beating cancer.

Armstrong became a more important figure in the probe this spring after disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis, who won the Tour in 2006 but was stripped of his title for doping, dropped long-standing denials and admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs and accused Armstrong among others of doping.