The biggest story in cycling — perhaps all of sports — right now is the “60 Minutes” report on the investigation of whether Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs, such as EPO, during his career.
It's an allegation that has dogged him since his first Tour de France victory in 1999, but it gained renewed vigor last year when former teammate Floyd Landis admitted to doping and charged that Armstrong did too.
A federal grand jury has been empaneled in Los Angeles to look into the accusations, primarily as they relate to Armstrong's tenure on the US Postal Service team.
Prosecutors have called a number of witnesses, including former teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie.”60 Minutes” interviewer Scott Palley said they've been investigating the issue themselves for six months.
Except for the one-on-one interview with Hamilton, much of the information in the report comes from leaked documents and secret grand jury testimony.
In case you didn't see the show, here are the two segments.
There's more here than the snippets about Hamilton and Hincapie that CBS News has promoted the past week.
In one instance, Hamilton says that doping was going on before Armstrong showed up on the US Postal Team in 1998. Hamilton was a member from 1995 to 2001. He said some team members, and later himself, received “doping products” in white lunch bags. They contained banned substances such as EPO and human growth hormone.
There also are charges — contained in the Hamilton interview — that Armstrong tested positive at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, but the team management and officials with the UCI had the issue swept under the carpet.
Update: UCI issued a statement that it “categorically rejects the allegations made by Mr Tyler Hamilton, who
claims that Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO during the 2001 Tour
of Switzerland and had the results covered up after one of his
representatives approached the Lausanne laboratory responsible for
analysing test results from the event.”
“60 Minutes” calls into question the often-repeated Armstrong defense that he's been tested hundreds of times, but never received a positive.
Armstrong's attorney, Mark Fabiani, issued a statement at the Facts4Lance website:
“We have already responded in great detail at www.facts4lance.com.
Throughout this entire process CBS has demonstrated a serious lack of
journalistic fairness and has elevated sensationalism over
responsibility. CBS chose to rely on dubious sources while completely
ignoring Lance’s nearly 500 clean tests and the hundreds of former
teammates and competitors who would have spoken about his work ethic and
In an off-the-air interview, Palley said that Hamilton did not disclose information about Armstrong willingly.
“It was like pulling teeth. When I asked him about doping, other teammates, he was reluctant to talk. If was a very difficult thing for him to do.”