Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lance Armstrong Investigation: What I Learned from 60 Minutes

I watched three 60 Minutes videos about the Lance Armstrong investigation, including a segment on 60 Minutes Overtime. In these videos, Tyler Hamilton states that the claims he made on 60 Minutes are what he told the Grand Jury that is investigating Lance Armstrong for his use of performance enhancing drugs while racing on the U.S. Postal Team. Here are a few claims made by Tyler and other takeaways from the videos:
  • Tyler entered an agreement with the prosecutor, Jeffrey Novitzky, that will receive "limited immunity from prosecution" unless he is found lying in which case he "looses that immunity and becomes liable for prosecution."
  • Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes said that it was like pulling teeth to get Hamilton to talk because it was obvious to him that Tyler did not want to talk bad about Lance. Whenever they talked about Armstrong doping, Tyler would say things like: "We all were doing it," as if to say that Lance wasn't the only one. 
  • Tyler says that U.S. Postal team management encouraged the team to engage in doping and that several of the top racers on the team were involved, but not everyone.
  • Doping was reserved for the top team members and when first approached to use doping products, he was given EPO in a white lunch bag. Tyler said he initially had to think about it but eventually considered it to be an honor because he was considered to be on the "A" team.
  • A team doctor told Tyler he recommended that he take EPO for the team and for himself. At another time a team doctor told Tyler he needed to get his hematocrit up. Tyler called Lance and told him about this and a package of EPO came in the mail in "the next day or two."
  • There were times in the Tour de France when the peloton would discuss amongst themselves how to avoid getting caught. 
  • The team members involved in doping had secret code words and secret cell phones used for discussing doping products. The code word for EPO was "Poe" or "Edgar Allen Poe." The phones were not registered in their names in case authorities were listening.
  • Hamilton claims that he and Lance engaged in blood doping in a manner similar to what Floyd Landis claimed. They first went to a hotel where a doctor took their blood. Months later when they were mid way through the Tour de France the team stopped at a hotel and the blood was transfused back into their bodies. He claimed he saw Lance have the transfusion; this is also what Floyd Landis claims he saw. 
  • Another claim by Landis that Tyler provides a second witness to is Lance had a positive test in the Tour of Switzerland. He said that Lance told him about it but that he wasn't worried about his positive test for EPO because "people took care of it." He said that Lance told him that his "people and people from the other side, I believe people from the governing body of the sport (i.e. the UCI) figured out a way for it to go away."
  • 60 Minutes received a letter from USADA showing that Lance's urine test was consistent with EPO use.
  • 60 Minutes has been told that Lance and Johan Bruyneel met with the Swiss lab director that tested Lance's urine and the lab director hast told the FBI that the UCI wanted the suspicious test to go no further. 
  • The head of WADA, David Howman, said that he believed Lance and Johan may have obtained information about testing which would help them avoid detection.
  • Howman discussed Lance's "donations" of $125,000 to the UCI around the time that the Tour de Swiss test showed Lance was doping were highly unusual and he has never heard of anything like it. 
  • Regarding Lance's ability to say he has never tested positive, David Howman pointed to Marion Jones who confessed to doping even though she had been tested more than 160 times and never tested positive. Howman used Jones as an example that never testing positive is meaningless.
  • 60 Minutes claims that Italian authorities have evidence that Lance paid Dr. Michelle Ferrari thousands of dollars through 2010 even though Lance has claimed he ended professional relations with Ferrari in 2004 a few years after Ferrari was implicated in doping scandals in cycling.
Regarding Lance's side of the story, 60 Minutes stated that Lance would not talk to them so, instead, they showed Lance's denials over the years. They also discussed Tyler's dirt and his many denials and lies. 

The part I was most disappointed in was when Tyler made a statement that he did not dope "for the Olympics" but said it was "possible through residual effects from previous races that there was some performance enhancement." You have to ask: what exactly does that mean? He didn't dope on the day of his Olympic time trial? He was using EPO and blood doping all season long for years but that day he didn't use anything? Let's just be totally honest here...

In the end, I believe 60 Minutes uncovered quite a bit of evidence on Lance. The bullet points above, coupled with evidence that George Hincapie also testified against Lance, suggests the Novitzky's investigation is not going to be pretty for Lance, assuming the Grand Jury indicts him. We should know more by the end of summer...


  1. This all is very very sad for me. I knew that the Posties doped as far back at 2001 when I went to the Tour and watched their "train" of US Pros lead the peloton up the mountains at wonderous the US just years before they could not do this in the races based in the USA! What gives I thought? And knew then they were doping. Then it angered me and I wanted them to be caught...all of them-The Euro Pros too! I raced for years and love the sport but because of its inherent difficulty in Stage racing over 3 weeks,,,Doping became epidemic. The answer is to shorten some stages..more rest days and a no leniency doping get caught you are Done..Period and as well you have to give back your won money and salaries and may face criminal prosecution. But it is sad that Lance was only better at this whole diabolical affair and may have been just as great if all were clean and no doping occured....but that is a lot of maybe's....He is going down and with it a lot of American innocense. People who really know cycling are not surprised but all those yellow banded true believers are going to be very very disappointed...but such is Reality and the Truth...I hope all involved come clean, tell the truth and move on...their lives can still be useful and productive.

  2. It's looking more like a RICO indictment is coming with Taillwind as the criminal enterprise. Underlying felonies will include, bribery of foreign officials, money laundering, criminal tax code violations, fraud on the US government, insurance fraud, mail and wire fraud, witness intimidation, soliciting perjury, obstruction of justice. There are a few more possible. The truth always comes out. I guess nobody ever told him that.

  3. The “Overtime” segment that showed Armstrong riding with the children brought to mind that this man has been the subject of nearly two dozen books (see below) for children and young adults, all of them presenting him as a role model, hero, and example of good character.

    Charles Howe

    Lance Armstrong: The Race of His Life (All Aboard Reading)
    by Kristin Armstrong (Author), Ken Call (Illustrator)

    On the Bike With ... Lance Armstrong
    by Matt Christopher and Glenn Stout

    Lance Armstrong: A Biography
    by Bill Gutman

    Lance Armstrong (Amazing Athletes)
    by Sandy Donovan

    Lance Armstrong (Sports Heroes and Legends)
    by Matt Doeden

    Learning About Resilience from the Life of Lance Armstrong (Character Building Book)
    by Brenn Jones

    Lance Armstrong (Blue Banner Biographies)
    by John Bankston and Kimberly Garcia

    Sweet Victory: Lance Armstrong
    by Mark Stewart

    Lance Armstrong: Champion for Life (High Five Reading)
    by Ian Young

    CHILDREN IN WORSHIP: The Road to Faith
    by Lance Armstrong

    Lance Armstrong: Cyclist
    by Michael Benson

    Lance Armstrong (Discover the Life of a Sports Star)
    by David and Patricia Armentrout

    Cycling: Lance Armstrong's Impossible Ride (Upsets & Comebacks)
    by Michael Sandler

    Lance Armstrong (People in the News)
    by John F. Grabowski

    Lance Armstrong: With a Discussion of Determination (Values in Action)
    by Nancy Ellwood

    Lance Armstrong (Overcoming Adversity)
    by John Thompson

    Lance Armstrong: Racing Hero (Famous Lives)
    by Peter Hicks

    Lance Armstrong (Benchmark All-Stars)
    by Michael Bradley

    Lance Armstrong: Determined to Beat the Odds (Awesome Values in Famous Lives)
    by Barbara Kramer

    Lance Armstrong: Cycling, Surviving, Inspiring Hope
    by Christine M. Hill

    Lance Armstrong (Champion Sport Biography)
    by Jonathan Butler and Joseph Romain

    Lance Armstrong (Inspirational Lives)
    by Peter Hicks

    Lance in France
    by Ashley Maceachern and Michelle Barbera