Interview: Former Armstrong assistant ‘ashamed’ of working for him

Mike Anderson, who worked as a mechanic and handyman for Lance Armstrong during the Texan’s years of Tour de France domination, has told VeloNews that he stands by accusations he has made that Armstrong possessed performance-enhancing drugs, and said he is “ashamed” of his former association with the star cyclist.

Mike Anderson, who worked as a mechanic and handyman for Lance Armstrong during the Texan’s years of Tour de France domination, has told VeloNews that he stands by accusations he has made that Armstrong possessed performance-enhancing drugs, and said he is “ashamed” of his former association with the star cyclist.

From November 2002 through November 2004 Anderson was part of Armstrong’s inner circle, working as his bike mechanic, property manager, handyman and personal assistant. However Anderson ultimately fell out of favor with the Tour champion, and was fired.

In December 2004 Armstrong sued Anderson over what he claimed was stolen property — primarily cycling equipment and two laptop computers — prompting Anderson to file a countersuit, claiming Armstrong had reneged on his promise to help him build a bike shop at the conclusion of the period of employment.

The suit was settled in November 2005; the terms of the agreement were confidential.

During his employment, Armstrong paid Anderson $3,000 a month as well as provided health benefits and a one-time $5,000 bonus. According to Anderson’s countersuit papers, filed in March 2005, Anderson’s tasks were “so helpful and numerous” that Armstrong’s wife Kristin referred to Anderson as “H2,” standing for “Husband Number Two.” Part of the employment agreement, Anderson claimed, was that Armstrong had agreed to help Anderson open a bike shop.

Anderson claims the relationship went sour in February 2004 after, while cleaning out the bathroom of Armstrong’s apartment in Girona, Spain, he discovered a box of what he believed to be Androstenedione, a banned steroid.

Anderson’s countersuit testimony states that the morning after Anderson’s discovery it was clear Armstrong was aware of what had transpired, claiming “Armstrong was immediately distant and irritable towards Anderson and his family… and for the first time in their relationship, instructed Anderson to call and knock before they ever entered the Armstrong apartment. This was completely unlike the arrangement that had existed before.”

Anderson’s testimony also claimed that Armstrong used a codename — ”Schumi” — for Dr. Michele Ferrari, and that during a December 2003 U.S. Postal Service team camp Anderson was assigned to transport Ferrari to and from Armstrong’s cabin, as Armstrong “did not want Ferrari staying at the Four Seasons Hotel with the USPS team because of the media.”

Following his termination, but prior to Armstrong’s lawsuit, Anderson claims he was offered a three-month severance package on condition that he sign a non-disclosure agreement, which he refused.

Armstrong representatives have since issued a document attacking Anderson’s credibility, saying he is a disgruntled former employee and that Anderson never observed Armstrong commit an illegal act, was never requested to perform an illegal act, and never observed Armstrong ingest any prohibited substance. The document also states that in 2004, Armstrong received emails from Anderson signed “Andersatan” and “666”.

Anderson, who holds a degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and is proficient in English, Spanish, German, French and Arabic, has since moved to New Zealand and opened a bike shop.

“Really all I ever wanted to do was to open up my own bike shop and do my thing, earn my living, and be my own man, so to speak,” Anderson told VeloNews. “And I caught up in some shit I should have never gotten caught up in. I don’t really want to have anything to do with professional cycling.”

Anderson’s name resurfaced over the past nine months as the rare former member of Armstrong’s inner circle that has provided evidence to FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky. A Sports Illustrated article, published last month and titled “The Case Against Lance Armstrong,” cited Anderson’s claims — that Anderson had discovered a box of Androstenedione; that Armstrong had told Anderson “everyone does it,” referring to doping; and that Anderson had been told to go along with a ruse to fool U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing officials at Armstrong’s ranch in Austin.

Armstrong’s friend John Korioth told Sports Illustrated the alleged attempt to fool USADA officials had not occurred, saying, “It was proven through USADA that that didn’t happen. Mike Anderson fabricated that out of thin air.” Armstrong’s legal counsel described Anderson to Sports Illustrated as “discredited.”

Anderson told VeloNews that he read the Sports Illustrated story and found it to be accurate “to the best of my knowledge.” He added that though the terms of his settlement with Armstrong were confidential, “I imagine it will come out, depending on how the federal case goes.”

“The best thing for me to say is that every single thing that came out of my mouth is the God’s honest truth,” Anderson said. “I hold perjury, and the truth, and honesty, in very high importance. I’m not going to put my hand on a bible and lie in court, that’s not going to happen. I gave sworn testimony in the legal case and I will stand by every accusation I made until I’m buried. I’ll never take a step back from that.”

Anderson said that he wouldn’t elaborate beyond what is already on the record because he does not want to say anything that might jeopardize the Novitzky case, adding, “because I’d very much like to see this all the way through.”

“I’m just one in a long list of people who have come out and said things,” Anderson said. “If you’re a legal-eagle type, you’ll look at my testimony with slightly less importance than the scientific documents that are out there — what Michael Ashenden has done, or the documents that came out of the SCA case, or the documents that Damien Ressiot from L’Equipe managed to uncover. It’s all there. I’m just another brick in the wall, so to speak … I think Betsy Andreu has probably been the best representative for all of those people, in terms of the indignation she’s demonstrated. That comes out pretty clearly in video interviews with her, and I applaud her for it.”

Asked how he felt upon reading the Armstrong team’s reaction to the Sports Illustrated article — Armstrong’s legal strategist Mark Fabiani said the SI report was “old news from the same old, discredited sources” — Anderson said it reminded him of Ali Hassan al-Majid, former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, who denied any wrongdoing up to his January 2010 execution.

“Chemical Ali — remember that guy?” Anderson said. “All the way to the end … to the very bitter end. It’s amazing, the denials. I’m not surprised at all. I’m not surprised by anything any more.”

Fabiani responded to Anderson’s latest statements with a statement to VeloNews: “Mike Anderson, a person who signed his e-mails ‘666’ and ‘AnderSatan,’ is not credible. His most recent fabrications are contradicted by the sworn testimony of others, all of which we have made available to reporters. There is no good reason to believe anything Anderson says.”

Anderson said that working for Armstrong would ordinarily carry a certain amount of cachet for a professional bike mechanic, although in his case, it’s something he’s tried to disassociate himself.

“If I could have those four years back in my life, I’d love it,” he said. “If I didn’t ever have to go through that it would be a much easier time. The association with all that is regrettable … I went into that experience with quite a bit of hesitation, based on the opinions of people I respect, about (Armstrong) and professional cycling. I think, looking back, I did it out of what can be called trust in someone I thought was my friend, but also I thought it would really help me out when I opened the doors to that bike shop — the ability to have that association. Of course that proved to not be an association I find to be very palatable.

“I don’t advertise my past, and in some ways it’s a shame, because I think it does give you, as a bicycle mechanic or a bike shop, a bit of credibility to have worked at that level. But I’m frankly ashamed of it.”

Anderson said the last time he and Armstrong spoke was over the phone, in 2004, and that the last time they’d seen each other was during their settlement in 2005, adding, “he wouldn’t even look me in the eye.”