Armstrong teammate's book alleges doping
By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Tyler Hamilton says Lance Armstrong gave him an illegal blood booster before the 1999 Tour de France and that the teammates took blood transfusions together during the cycling race the following year.
Hamilton makes the allegations in his book, "The Secret Race. Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France, Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs," set to be published Sept. 5. The Associated Press purchased a copy Thursday.
Hamilton and Armstrong rode together on the U.S. Postal Service team from 1998 to 2001.
Armstrong has long denied doping but last week chose not to fight drug charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. USADA has erased 14 years of Armstrong's competitive results, including his seven Tour de France titles.
The books covers much of what Hamilton said in a 2011 interview with "60 Minutes" and what he said he told federal criminal investigators looking into doping allegations on the Postal team. Officials closed that investigation in February without bringing any charges against Armstrong.
But Hamilton also provides sharper, personal details of what he says was an alleged doping program encouraged by Armstrong and other team leaders. He describes in detail how he and other cyclists doped and how they avoided getting caught.
"Lance worked the system ... Lance was the system," Hamilton wrote.
Armstrong's agent Bill Stapleton declined comment when contacted by phone.
Hamilton discusses at length his own descent into performance-enhancing drug use and said the team started even before Armstrong joined in 1998. He and Armstrong soon became roommates and confidants who would discuss using the blood-booster EPO and other PEDs.
"Nobody sets out wanting to dope," Hamilton said.
While visiting Armstrong's home in Nice shortly before the 1999 Tour, Hamilton said he asked him if he had any EPO and Armstrong pointed to the refrigerator. Hamilton took it, thanked Armstrong and remarked to himself how cavalier Armstrong was about simply keeping it in the refrigerator.
Hamilton described a doping plan put in place by the team for the 1999 Tour de France, with Armstrong's knowledge, that included a motorcyclist riding behind racers with a thermos full of EPO. It was to be dispensed to riders in the team camper after race stages.
He said team leaders, doctors and mangers encouraged and supervised doping and PEDs were handed out to cyclists in white lunch bags.
Hamilton said he and Armstrong sat near each other to take a blood transfusion after the 11th stage of the 2000 Tour de France, under the watchful eye of team director Johan Bruyneel. That would have been right before the Tour's punishing and famous Ventoux mountain stage.
Bruyneel is also facing doping charges by USADA and a lifetime ban if found guilty of leading what the agency has referred to as a vast doping conspiracy on his teams. Bruyneel has taken his case to arbitration.
Hamilton also renewed his claims that Armstrong told him he tested positive for EPO at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland but was able to get the International Cycling Union to cover it up. The UCI, cycling's governing body, has denied Hamilton's claim.
Armstrong argues that hundreds of negative drug tests prove his claims of innocence. He has previously sought to discredit Hamilton as a drug cheat who was twice banned for doping and was recently stripped of his 2004 Olympic gold medal.
According to USADA, Hamilton is among its key witnesses ready to testify against Armstrong. In all, it said as many as 10 former teammates were ready to do so. The agency has withheld most of their names, saying it feared Armstrong would try to intimidate them.
Hamilton alleged that former Postal rider George Hincapie, a key Armstrong lieutenant during his seven Tour victories, also was given PEDs while he rode for the team.along with rider Kevin Livingston.
Hincapie was among several riders reported to be ready to testify against Armstrong.
There was no immediate response to an email seeking comment from Hincapie's management team. Nor was there a response to a telephone message left at Livingston's athletic training business.