Drugs and the Peloton
Team Armstrong Responds
WHEN MY JOB WITH Armstrong came to an end a few months later—in the office of his friend Bart Knaggs—I wasn’t especially shocked, and in some ways I was relieved. Foolishly, I held out hope that the parting could be amicable.
Knaggs stressed that Armstrong had a history of not getting along with people. He had gone some time without speaking to his now-reconciled friend, Korioth, who had helped put together the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He’d had shouting matches with Bill Stapleton and major feuds with teammates.
There was a pattern. Anyone who challenged him or disagreed with him would eventually feel his wrath. “Lance is intimidated by you for being smarter than he is,” Knaggs said. “Lance doesn’t like Chann McRae because Chann can outrun him,” he added, saying this was no different.
I suspected Knaggs was right, and that Armstrong would take any disagreement all the way. He’d waged a war against Kristin and her dad over money and real estate during the divorce. He’d told me he would “put LeMond out of business”—referring to Greg LeMond’s bike business with Trek—because of LeMond’s public statements about his association with Ferrari. He’d ostracized former teammates who’d faithfully served him, but who had aspirations of their own and had gone to other teams.
I asked about the bike shop. “He mentioned it to me,” Knaggs said. “You and Lance can talk about that.” I went away with some hope that, having fulfilled my end of the bargain, the arrangement was still sound.
That dream crashed when I refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement that would have made me liable for a large sum of money if I even mentioned ever having worked for Armstrong. He had cut me off at the knees financially by firing me; now he held out the prospect of several months’ pay in exchange for my silence. Either way, there would be no bike shop.
A few days later, while I was sitting with my son at home, the phone rang. I picked up and said hello.
“Mike, it’s Lance,” he said. “Hey, look, man. You need to cut this shit out.” He meant my refusal to sign.