Hamilton, Hincapie and the Federal Investigation
Tonight, an American television program, "60 Minutes", will broadcast an interview in which Tyler Hamilton, former teammate of Lance Armstrong, will confess to using performance enhancing drugs and to witnessing Armstrong do the same.
In a clip on the CBS News website, Hamilton says that Armstrong used EPO to win his first Tour de France in 1999, and used it in the next two years to prepare for the Tour. Armstrong denies ever taking performance enhancing drugs.
Betsy Andreu, the wife of US Postal team member Frankie Andreu, who was on Armstrong's winning Tour squad in 1999 and 2000, has long asserted that they heard Armstrong admit to having used performance-enhancing drugs while he was in a hospital to be treated for cancer in 1996. Armstrong also denies this.
The Andreus have stood nearly alone against Armstrong for the years since they testified against him in the arbitration between SCA Promotions and Armstrong, recounting the infamous hospital conversation.
Since then, Armstrong has called the Andreus liars and attempted to discredit them, Floyd Landis and anyone else who questioned his integrity. He's repeatedly denied doping and offered up his record as evidence, calling himself the world's most tested athlete.
The Andreus have also lost close friends over the issue. "George [Hincapie] stood up for our wedding. But after everything happened with us, George wasn't allowed to talk to Frankie," Betsy Andreu told Cyclingnews. "When Frankie was on US Postal Lance and George were his closest friends on the team."
The Associated Press has now reported that Hamilton's confession was corroborated by Hincapie in a secret Grand Jury testimony.
It has been one full year since Floyd Landis levelled accusations of systematic doping against Lance Armstrong and his former US Postal team during Armstrong's record Tour de France streak. The allegations contributed to an ongoing federal investigation, which has been collecting information and testimony from ex-teammates and anti-doping authorities in the USA and Europe.
Now, with reports coming out about the information being collected by the federal investigators, Betsy sees a limit to Armstrong's power. "Armstrong can prey on the weak, but he's no challenge for a federal investigation."
Her only question was what took so long. "It's better late than never, but it's a shame that it took a grand jury investigation to get them to come forward," Betsy Andreu told Cyclingnews.
Landis gave his reason for coming forward last year: "Now we've come to the point where the statute of limitations on the things I know is going to run out or start to run out next month," Landis said. "If I don't say something now then it's pointless to ever say it."
Hamilton, who in 2004 tested positive and was handed a two-year suspension for blood doping, held onto his secret longer, only coming forward after giving his testimony to the Grand Jury.
"Last summer, I received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. Until that moment I walked into the courtroom, I hadn't told a soul. My testimony went on for six hours. For me, it was like the Hoover dam breaking. I opened up; I told the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And I felt a sense of relief I'd never felt before -- all the secrets, all the weight I'd been carrying around for years suddenly lifted. I saw that, for me personally, this was the way forward," Hamilton said in a letter to his friends and family.
Andreu couldn't speculate on what else the "60 Minutes" broadcast would include. "It does no good to guess what they're going to air. What we've said from the beginning is that we're not going to do anything to compromise an ongoing investigation," said Betsy Andreu, but she showed sympathy for Hamilton.
"How can someone who did what he did not feel bad. I've always said that Tyler is a nice guy, but this is what happens when you carry a lie - it weighs on you. Even though he was forced to, I'm glad he told the truth."
Betsy could only say that she and Frankie have cooperated with the investigation, but would not reveal any details so as to not compromise the investigation. "I hope the end result of this is that children will learn that doing drugs is not the way to get ahead in sports. It's a losing option."