Lance Armstrong blasts CBS' "60 Minutes" report
Lance Armstrong, who declined to be interviewed by "60 Minutes" for an explosive report Sunday night, has posted a statement on his publicist's website, facts4lance.com, in response to the doping allegations made by fellow cyclists Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie.
In part, it says, "CBS's reporting on this subject has been replete with broken promises, false assurances and selective reliance on witnesses upon whom no reputable journalist would rely."
The response comes after the "60 Minutes" report seemed to dismantle Armstrong's inspiring story.
On "The Early Show" Monday, CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian said Armstrong's life story is one for the ages -- he survived a lethal form of cancer to go on and win the world's most grueling bike race a record seven straight times, never once, Armtrong claims, resorting to illegal drugs that infected his sport.
But on Sunday night, Armstrong's inspiring story appeared to come crashing down.
The "60 Minutes" investigation reconfigured Armstrong's iconic image from American hero into, allegedly, a secretive, systematic user of performance-enhancing drugs, including the blood-boosting drug EPO.
Correspondent Scott Pelley's two-part report was built around the eyewitness account of Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong's top lieutenant for the first three of his seven Tour de France victories.
Pelley asked, "You saw Lance Armstrong inject EPO?"
Hamilton replied, "Yeah, like we all did, like I did many, many times."
Pelley reported, "Tyler Hamilton always denied doping until this moment. He's an Olympic gold medalist who kept the secrets of his sport for 14 years. He refused to cooperate with the federal investigation of Armstrong. But in June, he was served a subpoena which forced him to testify before the grand jury."
Pelley asked Hamilton, "Tell me what you saw in terms of what Lance Armstrong took in performance-enhancing drugs?"
Hamilton responded, "He took what we all took, really no difference between Lance Armstrong and I'd say the majority of the peloton, you know. There was EPO, there was testosterone. And I did see a transfusion, a blood transfusion."
As part of "60 Minutes"' six-month investigation, Pelley broke the news that George Hincapie, Armstrong's closest, most trusted teammate for all his Tour wins, had broken his silence, as well.
Pelley reported, "Now we are told that Hincapie, for the first time, has told federal investigators that he and Armstrong supplied each other with the blood-booster EPO and discussed having used testosterone - another banned substance during their preparation for races."
Keteyian said on "The Early Show" it was all part of what Hamilton portrayed as a cycle of deception -- complete with code words and secret cell phones.
Hamilton told Pelley that Armstrong had a secret phone.
Before the story was over, the "60 Minutes" report also appeared to put an end to Armstrong's most powerful defense: that he's never failed a drug test.
Hamilton told Pelley, "I know he's had a positive test before."
Hamilton said Armstrong tested positive for EPO at the Tour of Switzerland in 2001. When Pelley asked him how he knew of the positive test, Hamilton replied, "He told me."
On "The Early Show" Monday, Bill Strickland, editor at large of Bicycling magazine, said he has evidence that Armstrong had used drugs.
He told co-anchor Chris Wragge, "I wrote a story in May for Bicycling ... that said I thought he was guilty, I knew he had doped. In the course of investigating around him, I finally found the conviction. So I've known for awhile. This is just inevitable, I think."
Strickland, who had unique access to Armstrong's circle for Armstrong's 2009 comeback tour, said he was told by Armstrong himself point-blank that he didn't use performance-enhancing substances.
"He looked me in the eyes and said, 'I'm looking you in the eyes and telling you no.' We were on a bike ride. Very powerful when he looks directly at you and he says that."
"And you believed him?" Wragge asked.
Strickland said, "I did."
As for the "60 Minutes" report, Strickland said it's "pretty damaging" to Armstrong that each of these cyclists is corroborating the others. Strickland referred to biker Floyd Landis' claims in recent years that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs.
He said, "It certainly, the fact that Tyler is corroborating Floyd (Landis) -- both of them independently have some credibility problems -- (but) the fact that they're both saying the same thing is pretty damaging to Lance. The news about George Hincapie is probably more damaging than Tyler."
Wragge remarked, "We also heard from Frankie Andreu that he noticed teammates in the Armstrong era all getting faster. It was very, very difficult to compete with competitors who were (allegedly) using EPO, and other performance-enhancing drugs. Was it one of those elements where you just did (it), in order to keep up, you've got to shoot up - that type of mentality?"
Strickland said, "The best that could be said of him: He was the champion of a dirty era. We looked at the top 10 finishers of all seven tours he won - 41 out of 70 have been convicted of doping, confessed to doping. Just an era filthy with dope."
Wragge asked, "Do you think this is strong enough that Lance Armstrong finally has to go the route of like a Mark McGuire or other famous steroid users like an A-Rod and come out and say, 'You know what, I did do it?' Or does it continue to go down the line of a Roger Clemens who vehemently denies any type of performance-enhancing drugs no matter how concrete the evidence may be?"
"Lance is a fighter," Strickland said. "He's going to go all the way. I know he thinks he won't be indicted. I tend to think that, as well. A lot of people out there - he has a big fan base, a lot of people on his side. I don't think he's going to confess."
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