In the most credible assault to date on Armstrong’s legacy, former teammate Tyler Hamilton said what he said to federal investigators about Armstrong last summer: He saw Armstrong use.
Armstrong distributed, too, Hamilton said, once FedExing the banned substance EPO to him, after Hamilton said he called and asked Armstrong for the blood booster.
Most damning, though, was the hole finally punctured in Armstrong’s long-held “I’ve Never Tested Positive” defense. Hamilton said Armstrong told him he had tested positive in 2001 during a race in Switzerland, but that Armstrong and his people “made” the test result “go away.”
George Hincapie, one of Armstrong’s closest friends in cycling, also testified under oath to Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs, the CBS report said.
These aren’t bitter soldiers from Lance’s army now craving publicity; these are subpoenaed, former world-class cyclists who grudgingly gave up the greatest champion in their sport because they did not want to go to jail themselves.
After barely 30 unsparing minutes, all that’s left is a pending grand jury indictment, a Bondsian phalanx of lawyers shepherding Armstrong into a courtroom.
And even if Armstrong’s people try to portray Hamilton’s confession as another cash grab, merely advance publicity for an upcoming, tell-all book, there are too many others directly connected to Armstrong, too much mounting evidence to not see the facade of an athletic icon quickly crumbling.
In the seven years Armstrong won the Tour de France, just one cyclist on the podium beside him from 1999 through 2005 was never connected to performance-enhancers. That means every rider, save one, who placed second or third was dirty. So in a cycling culture that employed synthetic chemists like masseuses, the only other rider who didn’t use was the guy who won all the time?
Consider the revelation that Armstrong donated $25,000 to the International Cycling Union at about the same time he reportedly met with a lab manager to allegedly discuss his suspicious EPO test in Switzerland. Three years later, he donated another $100,000 to the organization to promote “clean testing.”
Think about that. Imagine generously giving to the company responsible for your employment drug test. Now imagine trying to explain the charitable contribution to your tax guy. You know, Dave, I really thought about Habitat for Humanity, earthquake relief and of course the Homeless Animal Shelter this year. But when it came down to it, those swell folks doing the urinalysis over at Qwest — now that’s a cause I want to get behind.