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Lance Armstrong accused of covering up positive drug tests with help from authorities


Lance Armstrong, right, speaks with Tyler Hamilton in 2003. On Sunday, Hamilton told ‘60 Minutes’ that international cycling authorities helped Armstrong cover up a positive test for the banned drug EPO in 2001. (VINCENT KESSLER/REUTERS)

International cycling authorities helped Lance Armstrong cover up a positive test for the banned drug EPO in 2001, arranging a meeting between Armstrong and the director of a Swiss anti-doping lab to ensure that the result never became public, one of Armstrong’s former teammates told ‘60 Minutes’ in an interview aired on Sunday night.

Armstrong “figured out a way for it to go away,” the teammate, Tyler Hamilton, said in the interview. “I was told this by Lance.”

 The revelation backs the claim made by another former teammate of Armstrong’s, Floyd Landis, who last summer made a similar charge that was vehemently denied by Armstrong and the International Cycling Union.

Hamilton also said Armstrong personally administered oral testosterone – known by the brand name Andriol – to himself, Hamilton and several teammates, placing a small amount of it on each of their tongues after a race. He further said Armstrong supplied him with EPO when he needed a dose, arranging for a package of the blood-boosting drug to be sent to him by overnight mail.

Armstrong is under federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, which is trying to determine whether he defrauded the U.S. government by allegedly taking illegal or banned drugs to win races for the U.S. Postal Service team. He has repeatedly denied taking performance-enhancing drugs.

“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,” Armstrong’s publicist, Mark Fabiani, said in a statement on a Web site Armstrong created to refute allegations that he doped.

Hamilton, who twice tested positive for banned substances, also said he watched Armstrong receive a blood transfusion in a hotel room with various teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team, and heard Armstrong discuss doping methods with an Italian doctor. Hamilton, who rode with Armstrong from 1999 to 2001, further said management of the team “encouraged” doping, handing out “white lunch bags” containing performance-enhancing drugs to top riders.

 The 60 Minutes report also said that the Swiss lab director has given the FBI a sworn statement about having met with Armstrong and his former team manager Johan Bruyneel in 2001 at the behest of the International Cycling Union, which “wanted the matter of the suspicious test to go no further.”

shipleya@washpost.com

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