Lance Armstrong’s former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, says Armstrong and other team leaders encouraged, promoted and took part in a doping program in an effort to win the Tour de France in 1999 and beyond, according to a report aired Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”
Hamilton said he saw Armstrong take performance-enhancing drugs, EPO and testosterone and also saw him receive a banned blood transfusion.
“I feel bad that I had to go here and do this,” Hamilton said. “But I think at end of the day, like I said, long-term, the sport’s going to be better for it.”
In the interview, portions of which were aired Thursday and Friday on “CBS Evening News,” Hamilton revealed other observations about the U.S. Postal team operation:
• Team leaders, including doctors and managers, encouraged and supervised doping;
• Doping was going on inside the U.S. Postal team even before Armstrong joined in 1998;
• Performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO and human growth hormone, were handed out to cyclists in white lunch bags;
• Team members were met at the airport, driven to hotels, told to lie down and give blood that could be transfused back into their bodies at a later date.
Armstrong long has denied doping and has never tested positive.
On Sunday, his attorney, Mark Fabiani, released a statement deriding the CBS report.
“We have already responded in great detail at www.facts4lance.com,” Fabiani said. “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 talent.”
The “60 Minutes” report used unidentified sources to report that another Armstrong teammate and close friend, George Hincapie, testified to the grand jury investigating doping within cycling that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used testosterone to prepare for races.
Armstrong posted a statement in support of Hincapie on the website: “We are confident that the statements attributed to Hincapie are inaccurate and that the reports of his testimony are unreliable.”
Hincapie released a statement Friday, through his lawyer, saying he did not speak with “60 Minutes” and didn’t know where the show got its information.
Hamilton, meanwhile, described a systematic doping program run by Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team. He said he offered the same testimony to the Los Angeles-based grand jury.
Federal prosecutors are investigating what essentially would have been a drug distribution network that was formed to keep Armstrong’s teams running at the head of the pack.
In his “60 Minutes” interview, Hamilton said he saw Armstrong use the blood-boosting drug EPO during the 1999 Tour de France and in preparation for the 2000 and 2001 tours.
Armstrong won the world’s most-revered race each year from 1999-2005.
Also in the “60 Minutes” report, Hamilton said Armstrong told him he had tested positive at the 2001 Tour de Suisse – a warm-up race for the Tour de France – but that he wasn’t worried about it.
Hamilton said Armstrong made a deal with the International Cycling Union, and they “figured out a way for it to go away.”