New doping allegations against Lance Armstrong have imperiled his public image as an all-time-great athlete who beat cancer to win the Tour de France seven times. Here is the lowdown on the 39-year-old former champion’s situation.
What are the recent allegations against Lance Armstrong?
Former teammate Tyler Hamilton told “60 Minutes” that he used EPO (a blood-boosting performance-enhancing drug) with Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France (Armstrong’s first victory) as well as in preparation for the 2000 and 2001 Tours. Hamilton claims United Postal Service team doctors hid the doping and the International Cycling Union (UCI) covered up a positive 2001 test, which the organization vehemently denied on Monday. Hamilton also said that friend and former teammate George Hincapie has handed over significant evidence and testified to a grand jury regarding performance-enhancing drug use in cycling, specifically by Armstrong.
How are these allegations different from previous ones?
While Hamilton and previous Armstrong accuser Floyd Landis both denied cheating throughout their careers until recently admitting to using PEDs, Hincapie is extremely well respected in the cycling world. If the grand jury testimony of the more credible Hincapie is as significant as Hamilton says, it could amount to the most serious blow Armstrong’s reputation has suffered.
How has Armstrong responded to the reports?
As aggressively as ever. After Hamilton’s claims went public last week, Armstrong tweeted: “20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case.” On his new website (www.facts4lance.com), he writes: “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 … Most people, though, will see this for exactly what it is: More washed-up cyclists talking trash for cash.”
What is next for Armstrong?
A federal grand jury has been investigating Armstrong since last summer. Among the charges reportedly being explored are fraud, conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering. Leading the investigation is Jeff Novitsky, who has famously investigated Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, the latter two of whom were eventually convicted.