Former Boulder pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton said on "60 Minutes" Sunday night that Lance Armstrong had a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs and cycling's international governing body helped him cover it up.
It was one of the many shocking allegations the University of Colorado graduate made about Armstrong, who is under federal investigation and has pointed to hundreds of negative drug tests as part of his defense. Hamilton also painted a culture of drug use on the U.S. Postal Service team, where Armstrong and Hamilton were teammates.
Among the accusations, Hamilton said:
• Armstrong took the banned substance EPO during the first of his seven Tour de France victories in 1999, and to prepare for his next victories in 2000 and 2001.
• Hamilton took testosterone, another banned substance, with Armstrong, who squirted it into Hamilton's mouth and that of a teammate.
• He received an express mail package of EPO the day after he told Armstrong that U.S. Postal Service's doctor said his hematocrit was low. Hematocrit is the volume of blood carrying red blood cells, which help endurance.
• He and Armstrong received EPO from Michele Ferrari, an Italian cycling trainer known as "Dr. EPO."
• He and Armstrong flew to Valencia, Spain, where they underwent blood doping in the middle of the 2000 Tour de France.
"We have already responded in great detail at www.facts4lance.com," Armstrong's attorney, Mark Fabiani, said in a released statement Sunday. "Throughout this entire process, CBS has demonstrated a serious lack of journalistic fairness and has elevated sensationalism over responsibility. CBS chose to rely on dubious sources while completely ignoring Lance's nearly 500 clean tests and the hundreds of former teammates and competitors who would have spoken about his work ethic and talent."
Hamilton, who retired in 2008 after a failed comeback following a two-year doping ban, said he detailed all the incidents in June during a federal grand jury hearing in Los Angeles.
The positive drug test is the most damning. It points to the heart of Armstrong's longtime defense and the credibility of cycling's entire doping program.
According to Hamilton, Armstrong tested positive at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, a popular warm-up stage race before the Tour de France. Hamilton said Armstrong told him about the positive test, and "he was so relaxed about it," Hamilton said. "Then he laughed it off, which helped me relax."
Hamilton knew a positive drug test would knock out U.S. Postal Service from the Tour de France and likely end its sponsorship, putting him and many cyclists out of work.
"People took care of it," Hamilton said. "Lance's people and the people from the other side, the governing body of the sport, figured out a way for it to go away."
Hamilton said the lab director met with Armstrong and U.S. Postal team director Johan Bruyneel. According to "60 Minutes," the U.S. anti-doping agency (USADA) saw a suspicious test score from the race and requested results from the Swiss lab. The lab sent Armstrong's lawyer a letter stating that he had no positive result.
At about that time, Armstrong donated $25,000 to the International Cycling Union and three years later donated $100,000, according to "60 Minutes." Armstrong said the donations were to help with "anti-doping," "60 Minutes" said.
Hamilton, 40, was a U.S. Postal support rider from 1995-2001 and an Armstrong teammate from 1998-2001. Hamilton said U.S. Postal Service encouraged doping through his time with the team even before Armstrong arrived in 1998.
"The doctor said it would be a good idea for the team and myself and my health to take some 'therapy,' as they called it," Hamilton said. "He recommended EPO. It was pretty emotional. I said I'd think about it."
Hamilton didn't race in the Tour de France until 1998. He said he knew EPO would help.
"At this point, I was so close to my goal," he said. " 'I've got to do it.' I worked so hard to that point. I felt I owed it to myself."
Once he started, Hamilton said learning to use EPO without getting caught was "part of the training" at U.S. Postal. Armstrong, who depended on riders such as Hamilton to help him up mountains, encouraged doping, according to Hamilton.
Before the 2000 Tour, he and Armstrong went to Valencia and into separate hotel rooms. Hamilton said doctors extracted 4,500 ccs of blood, and 10 days later — in the middle of the Tour de France — they put it back in their bodies.
Armstrong won the 2000 Tour by 6 minutes, 2 seconds.
In Hamilton's defense of Armstrong, he said he would "guarantee" every team had two or three riders doing it. "He was just being part of the culture of the sport," he said.
Armstrong's new website attacked Hamilton.
"Tyler Hamilton is a confessed liar in search of a book deal — and he managed to dupe '60 Minutes,' the 'CBS Evening News,' and new anchor Scott Pelley," the website said. "Most people, though, will see this for exactly what it is: More washed-up cyclists talking trash for cash."
However, if the grand jury finds Hamilton lied about the accusations, he would also be subject to prosecution.
Like Armstrong, Hamilton continued to claim his innocence despite two failed appeals of his drug ban. He didn't tell his family about his doping until four days before he talked to "60 Minutes," and Wednesday he returned his Olympic gold medal from the 2004 time trial to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
"If I could press a button and remove my memory from the time I was born until now, I would," he said. "It was awful."