Hamilton’s lawyers complain to investigators about alleged Armstrong ‘aggression’
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hamilton’s lawyers complain to investigators about alleged Armstrong ‘aggression’

by VeloNation Press at 5:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Aspen restaurant owner denies heated argument took place

Lance ArmstrongFollowing a reported encounter between former US Postal Service team-mates Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton in Aspen on Saturday night, the latter’s lawyers yesterday officially lodged a complaint with federal authorities about the matter.

Although the multiple Tour winner is seeking to downplay the exchange, Hamilton alleges that Armstrong was threatening to him and federal agents will now decide if what happened could constitute witness tampering. If that is proven, he could face stiff penalties including a possible prison sentence. His spokesman Mark Fabiani has declined to comment.

In a recent 60 minutes programme, Hamilton admitted to using banned substances for much of his career and also implicated Armstrong in their use. He also said that the former team leader arranged for EPO to be delivered to him.

Armstrong and his legal team have denied the suggestions, as well as claims from other former team-mates that he used doping products.

The exchange between Armstrong and Hamilton took place at the Cache Cache restaurant in Aspen. Hamilton attorney Chris Manderson has told ESPN that Armstrong was aggressive to his client, demanding to know how much he was paid to do the 60 Minutes slot. Manderson claims that Armstrong told him that that his legal team would "(expletive) destroy you," "tear you apart on the witness stand," and "make your life a living (expletive) hell."

Armstrong told Outside Magazine on Sunday that he simply said to Hamilton, ‘hey, what’s up?’, that the exchange was ‘certainly awkward for both of us’ but that it was ‘truly uneventful.’

Hamilton told Outside that the restaurant owner Jodi Larner, a friend of Armstrong’s, said that he could finish his meal but wasn’t welcome back at the restaurant.

ESPN spoke to Larner and she denies suggestions of a row. She said that the exchange was brief and while she did not hear everything that was said, stated that “it was not combative. It was not hostile... There were no threats. There were very few words exchanged. There was no scene made.”

She said that Hamilton was asked not to return as people at his table had been rude to her staff and didn’t tip them. According to ESPN, Hamilton told Manderson there was a "misunderstanding" about the bill and that it was sorted out before they left the building.

Hamilton said afterwards that he was shaken by the incident.

Manderson said that he would leave it to federal agents to decide if laws had been broken. “Lance Armstrong is a possible defendant in an investigation that's been widely reported, and Tyler is a probable witness,” he told ESPN. “When there's any contact, especially aggressive contact, we as lawyers have a duty to inform the authorities. ... What they will do with it, I don't know.”

ESPN quotes California-based former federal prosecutor Richard J. Cutler as saying that if Hamilton’s version is accurate, it could fall within the definition of witness tampering.

“If I were the prosecutor, my investigator would be going to talk to Hamilton,” he said. “This, to me, is a game-changer.” He said that a charge of witness tampering could also override any statute of limitations issues.

Armstrong and the squad are currently the subject of a federal investigation, which has expanded beyond the FDA to other government agencies. Investigators are working with European anti-doping bodies and police forces in uncovering details, and it is thought likely that indictments could follow this summer.

Armstrong has denied all claims of doping made against him and his spokesman Mark Fabiani has attempted to discredit Hamilton and his motives. The rider is a likely witness if the case goes to trial.

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