Lance Armstrong is among the greatest athletes of all time - an American hero who beat cancer to win the Tour de France, the Super Bowl of cycling, seven times. But now Armstrong is the focus of a federal investigation into performance enhancing drugs. A grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing secret testimony from some of Armstrong's former teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team.
One of the prime witnesses is Tyler Hamilton. Under oath, behind closed doors, Hamilton has told a story that may change the history of sports. Over the years, some former teammates have accused Armstrong of doping. But, it's been said in professional cycling that if Hamilton broke his silence, then the full story of the legendary U.S. Postal Service team would be known.
Scott Pelley talks about his bombshell investigation into teammates' charges that Lance Armstrong used banned drugs.
Hamilton does that now, in public, for the first time.
"Well, I just told my family for the first time four days ago about all this. It was brutal. Was the first time, really, I confided in them and then told them the whole story, you know, starting from the first time I doped till to up through the end," Hamilton told correspondent Scott Pelley.
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.
"If I could've pressed the button, if I could've deleted memory, you know, from when I was born up till the present moment, I probably would've pressed that button," Hamilton said.
Asked why, he told Pelley, "'Cause it was awful. What I went through was awful. There was a time I just wanted it all to disappear."
Hamilton sat down with "60 Minutes," reluctantly, because what he had to say would ruin his record as a champion cyclist and implicate Armstrong, to whom he still feels gratitude for their years as teammates. Hamilton helped lead Armstrong to victory in three Tour de France races, in 1999, then 2000, and 2001.
Meet the cyclist who exposed the dirty world of illegal drug use in the sport of cycling on "60 Minutes."
In racing, the team leader is protected by his teammates. They clear his path, also fend of challengers in the tight pack of competitors that's known as a "peloton." Armstrong was the leader of the team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
His top teammates, who led him to victory again and again, were Hamilton and George Hincapie. They were constant companions and kept each other's secrets.
"For the record, tell me what you saw in terms of what Lance Armstrong took in performance enhancing drugs," Pelley asked Hamilton.
"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, I did see a transfusion, a blood transfusion," he replied.
Well, it's hard to imagine the endurance demanded by the Tour de France - 21 days, 2,000 miles and a vicious vertical climb totaling some 50,000 feet in all. This ordeal is one reason that cycling became a dirty sport. Armstrong won seven times. And in those seven races, all of the second and third place finishers, except one, were at some point implicated in doping.
Armstrong's story appeared miraculous. He'd won more tours than any man and claimed to have done it as one of the only clean racers at the top of the sport.
"Is there evidence? Where's evidence of doping here?" Armstrong said, while talking to reporters at a bike race.
If there's little physical evidence, Hamilton says there are a number of witnesses. He told us that Armstrong was doping the very first time he won the tour. One of the drugs, EPO, boosts the production of red blood cells to enhance endurance.
"He was using EPO in the Tour de France in 1999?" Pelley asked.
"Correct," Hamilton said.
"He was using EPO in the Tour de France in the year 2000?" Pelley asked.
"He used it before to prepare for the Tour," Hamilton said.
"And what about the Tour in 2001?" Pelley asked.
"He used it to prepare for the Tour. I can't say that he used it during the Tour," Hamilton said.
Asked what he actually witnessed, Hamilton told Pelley, "I saw it in his refrigerator, you know. I saw him inject it more than one time."
"You saw Lance Armstrong inject EPO?" Pelley asked.
"Yeah, like we all did, like I did many, many times," Hamilton said.
"You saw it more than once?" Pelley asked.
"I think I saw it a couple times," Hamilton replied.
Produced by Michael Radutzky and Tanya Simon