Ex-teammate tells '60 Minutes' that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs

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Image Credit: Bernard Papon/AP Images

Last night’s 60 Minutes featured an in-depth piece about the federal investigation into Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who stands accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. The most damning part of 60 Minutes‘ investigation was the interview with Tyler Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist and former Armstrong teammate. Hamilton was direct in his accusations, claiming that Armstrong “took what we all took … There was EPO, there was testosterone. And I did see a blood transfusion.” Hamilton also alleges that Armstrong used EPO to prepare for the Tour in 1999, although he hedged a little: “I can’t say that he used it during the tour.”

I know what you’re thinking: If these allegations are true, then we have just received more evidence that there are no heroes left in this miserable modern American era. Our greatest athletes have turned out to be adulterers and ‘roided-up dope fiends; Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away; hey hey hey. (Armstrong has yet to respond to EW’s calls for comment.) But it’s worth pointing out that Hamilton isn’t just indicting Armstrong. He claims that the team’s management encouraged the doping. Given just how widespread performance-enhancing drug use was in the cycling world, it’s probably fairer to say that the entire system was broken in a million little ways by a million tiny sins.

Depending on how the federal probe turns out, we may very well reach a point in the near future when Armstrong’s reputation becomes completely inverted: Because he convinced us that he was a cancer-killing semi-messianic symbol of all that is good in humanity, there will be the natural instinct to turn him into an evil, grinning anti-Christ. But there are plenty of people who have been inspired by Armstrong. Perhaps this is just a good teaching moment, proof that we should be more skeptical of our icons, a healthy reminder that human life is extremely complex, so that some of our greatest heroes can do extremely terrible things (and vice versa). Or, I dunno, maybe it’s time for another media crucifixion. Check out the first part of the 60 Minutes report below:

Fellow human beings, what’s your reaction to Hamilton’s allegations?

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Read more:
Lance Armstrong steamed over photoshopped Outside Magazine cover: Is it, in fact, ‘lame [expletive]’?


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  • Elizabeth

    Hamilton looks like/reminded me of a young Donald Sutherland last night.

    I’m done being outraged over PEDs/cheating in sports. I’m more upset with the users coming back after their bodies begin to break down and diminish and expect the leagues, teams they played for to go above and beyond on financial support. Take responsibility for your decision to destroy your body.

    • You Bet

      I agree completely Elizabeth! You took the risk, then you pay for it. True for any sport.

  • Dave Parker

    I’ve got a hunch that the International competitive Bicycling World is ‘shot full’ of PED usage. Lance Armstrong has always had ???’s around him in my mind.

    • Mae

      i’ve also always had questions about him and performance enhancing drugs in my mind.

  • Anne

    I guess the lesson is that we must always be skeptical of super sucessful athletes…?? Also, that these major sporting events REALLY need to improve their drug testing methods.

  • Jon

    There is still no proof Lance did anything. So far the only evidence against him is two disgraced teammates outing him. Neither is much of a credible witness, since they both tested positive themselves and denied their guilt for a long time. It seems to me both men are just desperate to take everyone else down with them, and in this case the guy wants to write a book about it. This guy suddenly had a desire to get the truth out… 12 years later? Give me a break. Lance has never failed a test, and has by far been the most scrutinized athlete in the world. The French have had investigators following his every move for years. I’m sure they wiped down his bathroom with Q-tips when he was gone in hopes of finding evidence. And yet they have found NOTHING. Never once has there been a shred of evidence he used drugs. Until there is, it’s easy to dismiss people like Hamilton, who have other motives. The cycling world is filled with dopers, but isn’t it possible that Lance simply did it clean — that he truly was the greatest ever? It’s a joyless world for athletes these days — do something great, even historic, and it’s immediately questioned how you cheated the system to attain it.

    • Kim

      Jon, you failed to mention that Lance’s previous right-hand man and good friend, George Hincapie, who is NOT yet disgraced/tested positive, has also come out and admitted Lance’s usage of performance-enhancing drugs…there may be something to consider in that…

      • Fluffy

        Kim – You are misinformed, but it’s not surprising, since CBS really fudged the truth on this. What was said on “60 Minutes” about George H is that “unnamed sources claim that in George’s Grand Jury testimony he implicated Lance.” George has not commented. He can’t, because of the grand jury thing. George Hincapie and his counsel have publicly said that they did not reveal any aspects of his testimony. The only others with access to Hincapie’s testimony — government investigators and prosecutors — have likewise assured us that they are not the source of the information attributed by CBS to Hincapie. So no. George has not “come out” and admitted anything other than the numerous times over the years that he has stated that neither he nor Lance participated in doping. CBS should be ashamed. Tyler Hamilton has been suspended NUMEROUS times for doping, and always claimed he didn’t. Now – when he is totally disgraced, he wants to “set the record straight?” (On national TV. How nice.)

    • Pennagirl

      Are you in the same camp when we’re talking about Barry Bonds? He NEVER tested positive either…but everyone persecutes him like he did.

    • Duane

      Jon, you are one of the reasons Lance will go on forever.

    • ABC

      I want to believe in Lance as much as anyone but let’s face it: almost everyone he was riding with/against back in the day has tested positive/been linked to a doping scandal/admitted use, but we are expected to believe that he beat them all not once but seven times in a row?

  • Cate

    Tyler Hamilton was a hero of mine before he tested positive. Then, like most every cyclist who has tested positive since 1998, he denied it and denied it and denied it, even swearing on his beloved dog Tugboat that he was innocent. After the evidence was too damning to ignore, I gave up on him, disgusted that he couldn’t find the courage to come clean, serve his penalty, and then probably return to cycling to prove himself clean. David Millar did it. It can be done. Will you make millions off a book deal in which you take down everyone with you? Nope. Guess that’s the easy way out now. You had your chance to impress me, Tyler, and you lost it a long time ago. Still waiting for some credible evidence on Lance, though, that doesn’t reek of sour grapes and self promotion.

    • Fluffy

      I so agree with you, Cate. And I had forgotten about the Tugboat thing. Thanks for the reminder. Makes me hate him even more — if that’s possible.

  • Richard

    Of course he was on testosterone, he had no testicles. He lost them to CANCER. EPO is also used during chemo to maintain red cell count so that isn’t a surprise. The question is when is it unfair? Is it unfair if everyone is doing it? Once it is started, how can it be stopped? Remember the case when a man had a gender change and wanted to compete in the olimpics as a woman. When is it fair and when isn’t it?

    • windchaser

      You’re so right I hate how you rarely get the whole story presented at once. The question shouldve been long ago if under the influence of these drugs that he HAD to take to survive should he have been competing. The real issue is that we as a society idolize strangers we know nothing about but what we read or see on tv. Values should be learned in family friends, and community or probably the better option through personal introspection. He may not be this perfect guy who spends his days working out, playing with puppies, and feeding poor babies. Or maybe he does and at night he pounds EPO and redbull and goes to a strip club we have no reason to feel devestated because a complete stranger isn’t who we assumed he was all he ever offered was the opportunity to watch him ride a bike let the courts decided the fate of his record and our higher power judge.

  • Di

    Next up-Superman uses ‘Roids to stop leap tall buildings. Guess what? Everyone was doing it.

    • rerun

      Awesome! Everyone is killing people, let’s all do that too!

  • Rachel

    I find it convenient that these cyclists all accuse Lance Armstrong ONLY AFTER they are caught themselves. Find me a cyclist who hasn’t been caught doping confirming Hamilton’s allegations, and then we can discuss.

    Side note: Lance Armstrong has not failed one drug test in all his years cycling. So unless he’s found some super-secret way to beat the system, I take these allegations with a HUGE grain of salt.

    • mikey

      George Hincapie, who has never failed a drug test and has been Lance’s closest and most loyal teammate, has reportedly substantiated some of the doping allegations before the grand jury. Hincapie’s public declarations question the anonymous source of the leaked statements, but do not deny the content of them.
      It strains credibility to believe that Lance was the only clean rider, dominating at a time when virtually every significant competitor, teammate and advisor of his has since been tied to doping.

      • Fluffy

        The key word in your post, Mikey, is “reportedly.” George didn’t leak the info (which would be illegal to do, BTW, since it’s Grand Jury testimony). He also can’t confirm or deny the contents of the testimony, because that too would be illegal. The Justice Department is on a witch-hunt. Just like happened in the BALCO case, there are more leaks from Justice than the levees in New Orleans in 2005. Let’s just try to ruin these guys in the court of public opinion, since we can’t possibly get a conviction, right? And how handy there are known cheaters and liars like Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis more than happy to go on TV so they can get a book deal.
        Do I think Lance is a perfect angel? No. But I know the Europeans and the joke that is the World Anti-Doping Agency have been trying to bust him for more than a decade – to no avail.
        I thought in America, you were innocent until proven guilty. Apparently, the Justice Department and now CBS News disagree. Sad.

    • Cam

      You don’t understand the nature of cycling or the doping that is prevalent, Rachel. Why would clean riders, assuming there are any, know what Armstrong did? It’s EXACTLY riders who have doped who know the insides of the system. And teammates who have doped are even more relevant witnesses.

      Hamilton was FORCED to testify by subpoena. He originally turned down the request. That is not the actions of a man looking to hurt Armstrong.

      And, yes, there are plenty of “super-secret” ways to beat the system, and nobody knows them better than pro cyclists. It’s why doping has been systemic in the sport for decades.

      Hamilton beat the system for years. Landis was caught once despite doping much of his career. Many cyclists are caught despite having NEVER failed drug tests. And as Hamilton mentioned, teams are in on it too, so the riders have help and cover.

      • Cam

        And I’ve got news for Fluffy. The government has little worry about convicting Armstrong in the press. It doesn’t care whether he doped per se, but rather he and his team defrauded the government, and on that, they seem quite confident.

  • And then again

    Lance Armstrong may or may not be dirty, but watching Tyler Hamilton last night – he didn’t seem very credible. Too much stuumbling, too much shiftiness.

    They were in two rooms, but he saw Lance get the needle, oh wait, he didn’t see it, but he “had” to do it.

    Hamilton may be telling the truth, but if I was on a jury, I would be looking at his body language and saying -hmmmm.

    • Will

      Agreed. When Tyler was asked about whether Lance was using, his eyes were darting around, his head was shaking “no” when his mounth was saying “yes”. The body language simply didn’t match what he was saying.

    • Cam

      Well that tells you how irrelevant body language is. Armstrong has been lying with great body language for years.

  • Pennagirl

    If you substitute the name Barry Bonds, and he’s never tested positive either…EVERYONE calls Barry Bonds a liar and a doper based on allegiations. But oh since its King Lance — everyone else is the liar. Fair???

  • Yo Yo

    I want to believe Lance. I think a lot of us do. That being said, I simply do not think it is possible to race at the levels these guys are racing at, day after day, without something else going on. It’s more than having the best diet, best doctors, best trainers. I don’t think the body can handle a type of Tour De France regime (hundreds of miles a day for 3 weeks with thousands of feet in elevation change) and at the levels you need to be successful these days if you aren’t taking something. I think it’s why nearly every rider of Lance’s generation has tested positive. Are we to believe he is so unique? I know the story–his heart size allows him to process blood and oxygen better than most, his VO2 max is off the charts. But is that enough to sustain? Again, I hope it is but I won’t be shocked if he’s been lying. I also won’t be shocked if he denies it until the day he dies, even if there is irrefutable evidence. Too much to lose if he admits it now.

  • Cate

    I guess my problem with all this “evidence” from Tyler and Floyd is that they want us to believe that Lance was so open about his doping with them that they all did it in the same room, they shared supplies, etc. It just doesn’t fly with me. If Lance is the super-secret doper that he would need to be in order to evade the literally hundreds of controls he’s been through over the years, it blows my mind that he would let these guys in on it and be so nonchalant. No way! NO ONE would have seen him do it. In my mind, that’s the only way he could get away with it. Postal and Armstrong had everything to lose if there was a positive test. I’m not sure if I”d be more disappointed that Lance doped (and I’m not under the illusion that he’s an angel) or realizing he was that stupid with his teammates.

    • Cam

      Cate, cyclists on the same teams have been known to dope together. You don’t have to be “super-secret” about it when others have just as much to lose and when team doctors and officials are in on it too.

      And remember that Postal and Armstrong has little of anything to lose early on. It was only after Armstrong had built a reputation as a cyclist and persona as a hero that he had something to lose. By then though, he wasn’t going to stop what was helping him and what they had all gotten away with already.

      On the other hand, he had plenty to gain. Stay off drugs and struggle to keep up; get on them and, added to your natural ability, fitness and work ethic, become successful.

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