Today is a scheduled rest day — I am riding the Salt Lake Century tomorrow with an eclectic group of friends. In a group of nine riders, there are three difference groups of my friends. It should be an interesting exercise to get them all to ride together and work as a team. Many of the riders don’t have a ton of experience riding in a group, which will be a great opportunity for them to learn and practice their group riding skills. They are really going to have to play well with others…
Tyler Hamilton vs. Lance Armstrong on 60 Minutes
Oh man oh man this drama is really starting to ramp up. If you have read this blog for a while, you know I am really intrigued by Lance Armstrong. The guy was the ultimate cyclist and a fantastic humanitarian. I have so much respect for the guy on so many levels. I am also in the camp that would like to know once and for all if he doped. I love to hear people say, “What does it matter? Let it go and let him continue to raise money for the LiveStrong Foundation.” I agree 100%. If it doesn’t matter, I want to know the truth. It wouldn’t make me see Lance in any less of a light.
That is why this latest round of accusations is the most devastating. You can read the write-up I did on Jeff Novitzky — the principal investigator on the Federal case — where I summarized a lot of what is going on in the case to get a basic background on the facts. Since the time I wrote that, Floyd Landis found out he was getting sued for defamation by the UCI for claiming that the organization covered up positive tests for Lance Armstrong. But this is not what this article is about.
Tyler Hamilton was a stud of a professional cyclist in my book. I love Tyler Hamilton. He rode in support of Lance at the U.S. Postal Service Team 1998-2001 and he rode for CSC after that. In the 2002 Giro de Italia he crashed, broke his shoulder, and still finished second. In the 2003 Tour de France he rode with a broken collarbone and won a stage just to prove he was a stud. Tyler was the first American to win Liege-Bastogne-Liege, one of the highlights of the Spring Classics schedule. He won Gold at the 2004 Olympics in the Individual Time Trial. Tyler is one of the best to come out of the U.S. cycling scene in a long time, but his career was also tainted by positive tests for banned substances and practices.
At the 2004 Olympics he was accused of blood doping. He got to keep his gold medal, but when he was accused of doping later that year, he ended up serving a two year suspension. He was accused of using banned substances and blood doping in the Operacion Puerto and was banned. Throughout the entire process he maintained his innocence and claimed he had never used illegal substances. He tested positive for the use of another banned substance in 2009 that was in an anti-depressant he was taking and banned for another 8 years. That means he is still banned from racing for another 6 years.
That brings us to the current day. As part of Novitzky’s investigation, Tyler was subpoenaed by the Grand Jury. Tyler recently sent out an email to his family and friends that was picked up by the media where he says he basically unloaded on the Grand Jury because he was tired of lying. He was tired to trying to maintain his innocence when he knew he was guilty. He ended up telling the Grand Jury his version of the truth, which included that he doped, Lance Armstrong doped, and everyone else in the peleton was doping at the time. I am sure it felt like a huge weight was being lifted off of his shoulders. He claims he is the only person who knew about the doping, but I am sure that was to help out his ex-wife and others who had to have known about his practices.
Now Tyler has an interview this Sunday being aired on 60 Minutes. In it he alleges that he saw Lance dope. He saw Lance use EPO and testosterone and infuse his blood with someone else’s. He did make the claim that he only saw Lance dope outside of competition, never in competition, but that is still against the rules and a technicality. Regardless, he corroborates what Floyd Landis, Stephen Swart, and Frankie Andreu (all former teammates) have been saying about Lance for years. I would say this is an interview worth watching at the very least. I think you will see a humble Tyler who bears his soul.
Unlike Floyd, Tyler has no ax to grind. He has no book to sell. From what we know, he will not personally benefit from this accusation. Tyler now coaches other cyclists, and I don’t think he is trying to drum up more business for himself — making this revelation for that purpose would be a flawed marketing strategy for sure. “Hey I doped, please let me coach you”. See the fallacy there?
The first thing Lance’s Camp did was attack the credibility of Tyler. That is PR 101 and I think a very weak move on their part. While I don’t necessarily take Tyler’s accusations at face value, I do think that in this case, where there is smoke there is fire. The stories from multiple sources are starting to align and make Lance look really, really dirty.
I am starting to think that my prediction that Novitzky would get to the bottom of the story was spot on. I for one hoped they wouldn’t find anything at the bottom of Lance’s dark place, but it looks like there may be an entire catacomb of skeletons there.