Armstrong Investigation: Tyler Hamilton says he was sucked into doping by US Postal team
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Armstrong Investigation: Tyler Hamilton says he was sucked into doping by US Postal team

by VeloNation Press at 8:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Claims secret white lunch bags carried doping products

Tyler HamiltonFormer professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton appeared on "60 Minutes" Sunday evening and, amongst other claims, said he used performance-enhancing drugs with former teammate Lance Armstrong, the man he helped shepherd to three of his seven Tour de France victories.  Former teammate Frankie Andreu also detailed the state of the peloton and the need to use doping products.

"I just told my family for the first time four days about all of was brutal," was the opening quote from Hamilton that "60 Minutes" used to open his interview.  "It was the first time I really confided in them, and then told them the whole story starting from the first time I doped up through the end."

Hamilton was served a subpoena in June and forced to testify in front of a Grand Jury investigating Armstrong.  The 40 year old could only say this of the fear leading up to that moment: "If I could have pressed a button, if I could have deleted my memory from when I was born until the present moment, I would probably would have pressed that button."

When asked why, he replied, "Because it was awful...what I went through was awful.  There was a time I just wanted it all to disappear."

Many former cyclists caught up in doping scandals have paid the ultimate price.

"He took what we all took," Hamilton said of Armstrong's use of PEDs.  "There's really no difference between Lance Armstrong and the rest of the peloton.  There was EPO, there was testosterone and I did see a blood transfusion."

Hamilton said Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour de France, used it for preparation in 2000 and 2001.

"I saw it in his refrigerator, I saw him inject it more than one time," he said.

During the show, "60 minutes" also repeated the fact that a source of theirs confirmed that Armstrong's long-time friend George Hincapie had also testified that he used EPO and testosterone alongside the Tour de France champion in front of the Grand Jury.  Like Armstrong, Hincapie never tested positive for EPO or testosterone during the American's Tour rein, and would be seen as having no motive to finger his former teammate for doping.

"The team management encouraged it [doping], yes," Hamilton said when asked where the motivation for doping came from.

"He was the biggest rider on the team and he helped to call the shots," he said of Armstrong's role in the team's alleged doping program.  "Yes, he doped himself, like everybody was just part of the culture of the sport.  But yeah, he was the leader of the team and he expected - for example - going into the 1999 Tour, which was his first Tour that he won, we were going to do everything possible to help Lance win.  We had one objective, that's it."

Hamilton also claimed use of testosterone to aid in recovery.

"Andriol [a brand of testosterone] is just in a little red pill, but basically what inside is a special oil," he continued.  "Another way to take it is that you get a little eye dropper thing and you'd have a little glass container of it.  I saw him take it that way too, with me."

When he first started riding for the team Hamilton said he noticed that the stronger riders would get special white lunch bags, but others, including himself, would not.  After time he figured out what was in them, and his suspicions were confirmed when he eventually became part of the white lunch bag club.

"There were doping products in the white lunch bags," he said.  "In my lunch bag I got EPO, other guys got other things such as growth hormone."

At the time Hamilton thought in a way, it was sort of an honor. "Wow," he thought, "they think I'm good enough to be with the A-Team guys."

He said the team doctor at the US Postal team recommended he take EPO so he could make the Tour de France team, and he also recommended he take the drug for his health.  It was a decision he said he needed to think about seriously before agreeing.  He also claimed the team doctors actively monitored the riders' hematocrit levels to avoid detection from doping tests.  "I took a little while to think about it, but I started to see the dirty side of the sport," he said.

"I felt that at this point in my career I was so close to the goal that I've got to do it.  What would you do?  You worked so hard to get to that moment...really, you can say my whole life to get to that point," he said.

"I kind of felt like I owed it to myself to look the other way and go forward," he admitted.

He said at one point he asked for help from Armstrong in the form of EPO, and a couple of day's later a package arrived with the drug.  He said they would use secret cell phones that weren't in their names to discuss, and also had code words for the different banned substances.  "Poe...Edgar Allan Poe," he said was the code they used for EPO.

Hamilton also claimed he took a private jet to Valencia, Spain with Armstrong, where they went to a hotel and had 450cc of blood taken out that they later used during the 2000 Tour de France.  He admitted that Armstrong had his blood taken in another room, but he saw the seven-time Tour winner transfuse it back into his system alongside him later that July.

He admitted to having been given limited immunity for his testimony, but said that if any of his testimony proved to be false, the deal would be taken away.

Andreu also said he noticed when EPO became rampant in the peloton.  "Things were just getting faster and faster and sprinters were getting over the mountains and winning climbing stages," Andreu said.  "There's 200 guys flying over these mountains and you can't even stay in the group and it's impossible to keep up, and it's like 'What the hell is going on here?' - that was kind of the mindset."


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