Now that Lance Armstrong has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to win his seven Tour de France titles, questions are swirling about whether his ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow lied to protect his reputation.
In a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday, 4.3 million viewers looked on as the cyclist publicly admitted for the first time that he participated in a wide range of cheating that included using blood doping, erythropoietin, or EPO, human growth hormone, or HGH, and testosterone. Armstrong also confessed that everyone who had previously accused him of using illegal measures had been right, including opponents he had antagonized at the time of the accusations.
"I'm a flawed character," Armstrong said. "I viewed this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times."
Although Armstrong did not mention Crow during the interview, his confession does implicate her. Armstrong and Crow dated and were even engaged during two of Armstrong’s Tour de France wins, and Crow was inevitably required to vouch for Armstrong on multiple occasions.
Just after the couple had gotten engaged seven years ago, Crow gave an interview to USA Today in which she addressed the doping rumors against her then-fiance.
Crow characteristically downplayed the importance of the allegations made against Armstrong, reportedly telling the newspaper, "I don't think the French people are on a mission to strip him of his integrity."
Crow was referring to allegations made by Armstrong's camp that the French had purposely tainted a urine sample produced by him with EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.
"It's just a handful of people pursuing that theory," Crow said. "And it's tiresome and a nuisance, and it will eventually end, I hope."
Unfortunately for Armstrong, the pursuit of that so-called theory did not end, and the newspaper interview was not the last time that Crow’s testimony would be needed. As the New York Daily News reported last August, Crow was interviewed again by federal agents in late 2011.
In a tell-all memoir “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France, Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs" that was released in September, Armstrong’s former teammate Tyler Hamilton revealed that Crow was subpoenaed just weeks before a grand jury concluded its investigation of Armstrong.
Hamilton strongly insinuated that Crow had to have been aware of Armstrong’s doping, not only because she was dating him at the time, but also because she accompanied him to locations where he distributed and stored performance-enhancing drugs. One such place was an apartment in Girona, Spain, which Hamilton alleged Armstrong used as a base of operations to distribute those kinds of drugs and store bags of blood that could later be used for reinfusion.
TMZ reported that Crow’s agent declined to comment on the matter.