Drugs and the Peloton
Team Armstrong Responds
The next day, Armstrong slapped us in the face by leaking the terms of the proposal to the media. Stapleton falsely referred to me as a landscaper. Tim Herman (one of Armstrong’s army of lawyers) called me a dogsbody and described my actions as a shakedown.
Armstrong filed suit against me in Travis County District Court, asking a judge to declare my employment contract—that is, the email Armstrong had sent—invalid. I filed a countersuit for wrongful dismissal, breach of contract, and defamation. Armstrong’s lawyers denied the existence of any contractual email—foolishly, I had not kept a copy, but I could nearly recite the thing from memory—and challenged us to spend the money on forensic computer examination to find it.
As the struggle unfolded over weeks and months, many people sneered at my story, assuming that Armstrong—Tour hero, cancer survivor, philanthropist—would never fight dirty or lie, so I had to be the dishonest party. I suddenly had a lot of former friends, no job, no money, and a gaping hole in my professional reputation.
The rest of the story was fought out in rooms full of lawyers and witnesses, a process that took far too much time out of my life, ruined me financially, and put great strain on me and my family. After 10 months of it, Allison and I decided to settle the suit for terms that both sides agreed not to disclose. The courts had thrown out parts of our counterclaim, which was a huge surprise and a setback to my legal team.
The whole process was, in my opinion, grotesquely influenced by politics, faulty and inconsistent judgments, and outright lies. In my view, Armstrong was able to avoid answering my claims by using his power and influence. The judge allowed him to stall for months on giving a deposition, and the case was settled before he ever had to answer questions under oath.
I was powerless, and I was inaccurately portrayed by the media, thanks to Armstrong’s efforts at spinning the story. But I stuck by my principles, which I don’t regret. During the two years of my employment with Armstrong, I’d fulfilled my end of the agreement. I did more than required of any mere employee. I’d been his confidante, minder, protector, and more. For that, I got nuked.
THE PAST 12 YEARS of my life have featured plenty of irony. I turned away from the career path that I had believed would please my parents—my mother, in particular—and toward something I wanted but that made me apprehensive. The choice connected me with Armstrong, whose reputation and resources seemed to guarantee my success. But things didn’t work out as planned.
Armstrong’s aggressive attempts to ruin me, and their effectiveness, left me with a deepening sense of disappointment in the U.S. justice system, where the well-heeled often get away with things that ordinary citizens simply can’t. We had to sell the house during that period, and in 2006, with little chance of repairing the damage to my reputation in Austin, we sold nearly everything else and moved to New Zealand. Oddly, what earned me permanent-resident status was my experience as a bike mechanic, which at that time was on the list of jobs that needed to be filled.