Tyler Hamilton

When the presumption of innocence meets la-la land


It’s Oscar Sunday here in Los Angeles. “La La Land” is expected to clean up.


Ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls, let’s turn the lights down low, settle back into our comfy seats with a big tub of popcorn and, what with the weekend's super-interesting script ripped from the Sunday Times over in London tied to a Fancy Bears hack all about Alberto Salazar and Sir Mo Farah and others, let’s revisit some showstoppers from years gone by.

What an interesting idea, just generally speaking: when the presumption of innocence meets la-la land.

But first:

Just like at the movie theater, when they tell you to turn off your cellphone, this disclaimer, brought to you Saturday from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency:

“Importantly, all athletes, coaches and others under the jurisdiction of the World Anti-Doping Code are innocent and presumed to have complied with the rules unless and until the established anti-doping process declares otherwise. It is grossly unfair and reckless to state, infer or imply differently.”


Oh, wait.

For clarity: do these rules apply with the same import to Russian athletes?

Because this would be the same U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that over the past 18 months has helped promote the charge to ban each and every Russian athlete because of allegations involving what an independent World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report alleged was “institutional control” of the Russian anti-doping control system.

Just to reiterate from the USADA press aide's tweet, italics and underline mine: "all athletes, coaches and others … are innocent and presumed to have complied with the rules unless and until the established anti-doping process declares otherwise.”

For emphasis:

“It is grossly unfair and reckless to state, infer or imply differently.”

A U.S. Congressional subcommittee meets Tuesday to consider “ways to improve and strengthen the anti-doping system.” Perhaps this can be on the agenda.

La, la, la, la, la.

Returning, as we were, to a story seemingly crying out for a Hollywood-style treatment:

The Sunday Times, citing a Fancy Bears hack of a March 2016 USADA report, says Farah and others were given infusions of a research supplement based on the amino acid L-carnitine.

The newspaper says Salazar boasted about the “incredible performance boosting effects” of the stuff and emailed Lance Armstrong before Armstrong was outed for doping: “Lance call me asap! We have tested it and it’s amazing.”

Farah, in a Sunday post to his Facebook feed, said it was “deeply frustrating” to have to respond to such allegations and asserted he was a “clean athlete.”

To reiterate, Farah is, and the others in the Salazar camp are, assuredly entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Scriptwriters out there: do you know what might, just might, make for a really interesting take on the Farah saga? In retrospect, if you will, maybe the turning point in the whole thing?

In 2011, at the IAAF world championships in Daegu, South Korea, Farah lost the 10,000 meters by just this much, to a guy perhaps only true track geeks have ever heard of, Ibrahim Jeilan of Ethiopia.

After some 26 minutes of racing, Farah ran the last lap in 53.36 seconds, which is crazy fast.

It wasn't enough.

Jeilan won, in 27:13.81.

Farah got the silver, in 27.14.07.

Since, Farah has pretty much won everything of import, including both the 5 and 10k races at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Jeilan isn't exactly a total chump. He was the 2006 world junior 10k champion. He is the 2013 10k world silver medalist.

But since that fateful evening in Daegu, Aug. 28, 2011, their career paths have — diverged.

One might ask: how come?

Moving along, as we were.

In 1978, when I was a second-year student at the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois, the best-picture winner was “Annie Hall.” Talk about neurotic. You want neurotic? Here was neurotic: a second-year news writing class, taught by a crusty curmudgeon straight from central casting, Dick Hainey, in which we were taught that one mistake, even one, would get you an automatic failing grade and, son, you deserved to fail and, better yet, start learning to suck it up, because anything less than perfect obviously equals abject failure.

Here is another decree from the oracle atop the mountain that was Professor Hainey, and while anything less than perfect turns out maybe to be not such great advice for life, this next nugget is a worthwhile journalism lesson that has stuck for more than 40 years:

If your mother tells you she loves you — check it out.

In that spirit— and, once more for emphasis, Sir Mo and the others in the Salazar pack are assuredly entitled to the presumption of innocence — let us visit some hits from the wayback machine even as we note that Julia Roberts is, according to Variety, set to produce the film adaptation of the New York Times best-seller “Fool Me Once”:

Armstrong, 1999: “I have been on my deathbed, and I’m not stupid. I can emphatically say I’m not on drugs.”

Armstrong, 2005: “I have never doped. I can say it again but I’ve said it for seven years.”

Armstrong, 2005: “How many times do I have to say it? … Well, it can’t be any clearer than, ‘I’ve never taken drugs.’ “

Armstrong, 2010: “As long as I live, I will deny it. There was absolutely no way I forced people, encouraged people, told people, helped people, facilitated. Absolutely not. 100 percent.”

Armstrong on Twitter, May 2011, as his former teammate Tyler Hamilton was about to go on “60 Minutes”:


Armstrong, 2013, after USADA got him: “All the fault and all the blame here falls on me. I viewed this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times. I made my decisions. They are my mistakes, and I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”

Hamilton, interview in his Boulder, Colorado, living room, 2005: “I didn’t blood dope, that’s for sure.”

Hamilton, May, 19, 2011, confession letter to family and friends: “During my cycling career, I knowingly broke the rules. I used performance-enhancing drugs. I lied about it, over and over. Worst of all, I hurt people I care about. And while there are reasons for what I did — reasons I hope you’ll understand better after watching — it doesn’t excuse the fact that I did it all, and there’s no way on earth to undo it.”

Hamilton, describing a July 2000 blood transfusion during that year’s Tour de France, as relayed as part of the USADA case against Armstrong:

“The whole process took less than 30 minutes. Kevin Livingston and I received our transfusions in one room and Lance got his in an adjacent room with an adjoining door. During the transfusion Lance was visible from our room, Johan, Pepe and Dr. del Moral were all present and Dr. del Moral went back and forth between the rooms checking on the progress of the re-infusions. Each blood bag was placed on a hook for a picture frame or taped to the wall and we lay on the bed and shivered while the chilly blood re-entered our bodies.”

Floyd Landis, his very own 2007 autobiography, the ironically titled Positively False, chapter 11:

“I did not use performance enhancing drugs in the 2006 Tour de France or any other time in my career. All I ever did was train. I put training first, even before my family. When you want to win, you eat, drink, sleep and breathe cycling. Knowing it’s not forever is what makes it doable. So I made the sacrifices I had to make, and I did so honestly.”

From page 278-79 in the book, Landis describing a post-2006 Tour de France trip back to where he was from, Farmersville, Pennsylvania, amid the largely Mennonite area of Lancaster County:

"One by one, hundreds of people walked across the yard to my parents to congratulate them. One woman went to mother with tears in her eyes. 'She said that she and her husband had lost their son in Iraq seven months before,' Mom said. 'She told me, 'My husband has never gotten over it, but he rides a bicycle and he watched every single stage. He's a different person since your son won. It was like healing to him.' I just felt so blessed that you were able to inspire someone while doing something that you love,' Mom told me. I never rode my bike in order to have an effect on anyone else, but I understand that people are influenced by what they see. When my mom told me this story, I was really touched that I had helped someone."

USADA Reasoned Decision, just one of many harrowing passages describing Landis' doping: “They shared doping advice from Michele Ferrari," the Italian doctor identified by USADA as a key player in the Armstrong scheme, "and when Floyd needed EPO Lance shared that, too.”

Doping denial inside in big red letters, too, 2004

Marion Jones, her very own 2004 autobiography, and in big red capital letters about 175 pages in:

“I have always been unequivocal in my opinion. I am against performance-enhancing drugs. I have never taken them and I will never take them.”

Government sentencing memorandum, 2007, United States v. Marion Jones:

“The defendant’s use of performance-enhancing drugs encompassed numerous drugs (THG, EPO, human growth hormone) and delivery systems (sublingual drops, subcutaneous injections) over a substantial course of time. Her use of these substances was goal-oriented, that is, it was designed to further her athletic accomplishments and financial career. Her false statements to the [investigating] agent were focused, hoping not only to deflect the attention of the investigation away from herself, but also to secure the gains achieved by her use of the performance-enhancing substances in the first place. The false statements to the [investigating] agent were the culmination of a long series of public denials by the defendant, often accompanied by baseless attacks on those accusing her regarding her use of these substances."

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, 2007, in sentencing Jones to six months in custody, emphasizing that what she did was not a “momentary lapse in judgment or a one-time mistake but instead a repetition of an attempt to break the law.”

Who knows what will happen at the Oscars?

What the next few weeks or months will bring with Sir Mo, Salazar and others?

Surprises and plot twists galore, perhaps.

La, la, la, la, la, everyone. Keep a watchful eye on your sweet mother and the popcorn.

UCI's belated preemptive strike

Cycling's international governing body, which goes by the acronym UCI, "did not protect" Lance Armstrong as he cheated his way to the seven Tour de France titles that have since been stripped from him, a new file prepared by the federation asserts. "Every decision by the UCI concerning Armstrong -- and indeed every other rider -- was taken in compliance with the known facts and with the science available at the time," says the file, sent out Monday to national cycling federation presidents, describing the UCI as a "pioneer" in the anti-doping campaign and "at the forefront" of "many new technical advances."

In an accompanying letter, UCI president Pat McQuaid declares, "For the past 20 years, the UCI has done everything possible in tackling the scourge of doping in sport."

The exuberance of these declarations, and the timing of the file, must be understood in context. McQuaid is in a reelection campaign, and most of the Olympic world, including the International Olympic Committee executive board, will be gathering in two weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia, for what's called the SportAccord convention.

Pardon the oxymoron but this is, in essence, a belated preemptive strike.

Belated, of course, because the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's so-called "Reasoned Decision," which lays out the case against Armstrong in breathtaking fashion, came out last October.

Then, in January, came Armstrong's televised confession with Oprah Winfrey.

Now, for a variety of reasons, it's in McQuaid's interest in particular for UCI to appear transparent.

He says in the cover letter that UCI "remains committed" to an "independent audit' of UCI's "behavior and practices" during "the Armstrong years.  Armstrong won seven straight Tours de France, 1999-2005, retired, then raced again in the Tour in 2009 and 2010.

Further, McQuad says in the letter, "I can also confirm that the UCI has agreed to release all test data in our possession concerning Armstrong to both WADA," the World Anti-Doping Agency, "and USADA."

And, he says, UCI is discussing with WADA "a process that will allow a full examination of doping in the peloton in the past so that we can learn all the lessons that need to be [learned.]"

The 14-page file itself covers a range of topics that by now are familiar elements of the Armstrong tale, traversing the 1999 test for corticosteroids at the Tour de France to and through Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Armstrong's two donations to UCI.

"Many of the allegations leveled at the UCI have been comprehensively answered and debunked," the file says on page one.

The issue, of course, is whether this file -- in its bid to relay the truth -- tells the whole story. As the file circulated Monday around the world, there were those who found plenty to question.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of USADA, called it "simply another political move full of self-serving excuses and rationalizations and not the decisive action UCI promised the world over seven months ago now."

Tygart called the file "a 14-page letter with no evidence," issued "in response to more than a decade of a corrupt culture of drug use," and  labeled it " nothing short of shameful."

As an example of whether the file merely relays events but also fixes them in the big picture, consider the matter of Armstrong's 2001 Tour of Switzerland tests.

Armstrong was tested five times in that race. Three of those five samples were tested for EPO, the blood-booster erythropoietin. All were negative. Two, though, came back with notes from the lab as "strong suspicion" for EPO with numerical readings of 75.1 and 70.0; a positive reading was 80.0.

It is therefore "clear and irrefutable," the file says, that the UCI did not conceal anything.


At the same time, as other UCI documents have also made clear, Dr. Leon Schattenberg, a member of the UCI anti-doping commission, told Armstrong and then-U.S. Postal Service team leader Johan Bruyneel of the suspicious test results a few days later, at the 2001 Tour de France.

This was a "normal" UCI policy at the time, "done so that the rider, if he was indeed doping, would stop doing so and the other competitors would be protected," according to UCI documents.

Armstrong "asserted strongly" that it was "completely impossible" for him to have produced a suspicious test as he "categorically denied doping," and went on to question the EPO test itself, as those documents relate.

The entire 2001 Swiss affair galls UCI critics.

They ask: if you were serious about doping, if you were genuinely a "pioneer," what would you do about a competitor -- indeed, the sport's star rider -- who was "strongly suspicious"? Would you essentially give him a field course about how the latest new test works and how close he was to flunking it -- and thus about how, if he were smart, he had better get back in line?

Or would you, knowing he was "suspicious," wait to actually catch him?

Moreover, wouldn't you want to submit the other two tests at the time for EPO? Or test them later -- as was allowed under the rules -- for EPO? And then, later, when you had reason to know, or at least to believe, that numerous witnesses were testifying to Armstrong's use of EPO, wouldn't you provide that evidence to USADA during its investigation, particularly after repeated requests?

Then there is the matter of Hamilton.

On page 11 of Monday's file, it notes that in 2004 Hamilton was caught blood doping and "concocted a story about a vanishing twin brother," adding, "Had Hamilton not been caught by the UCI, he would never have eventually confessed and then testified against Armstrong."

OK -- except that Hamilton fought the matter for years. A confession was a long time in the making. So was testimony against Armstrong. And then, as the USADA "Reasoned Decision" makes plain, when Hamilton had offered his cooperation to U.S. law enforcement officials, Armstrong told him, "I'm going to make your life a living … f-ing … hell."

The file sent out Monday says it was UCI that in 2006 found out that Landis had tested positive for banned testosterone. "If that had not happened," the file says, "Landis would never have eventually testified against Armstrong."

Except, again, that ignores the ferocity with which Landis fought the charges, indeed the book he wrote denying culpability, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that USADA -- not UCI -- spent prosecuting the case and more. UCI would not even give USADA Landis' test data, which assuredly would have been helpful in the prosecution of the case.

It is perhaps worth recalling that in October, 2012, within a couple weeks after the Reason Decision was issued, McQuaid seemed full of scorn for Landis and Hamilton for providing evidence to USADA about the doping system in place at the U.S. Postal team:

"Landis started it. He was in a bottomless hole and he said the only way out of it was to bring the sport down. That's what he intended doing and what he intends doing but he won't achieve it.

"Another thing that annoys me is that Landis and Hamilton are being made out to be heroes. They are as far from heroes as night and day. They are not heroes, they are scumbags. All they have done is damage the sport."

As for the two donations Armstrong made to the UCI -- the file asserts there is "no relationship" between testing and the money. From the UCI's perspective: Armstrong never tested positive; there was no test to conceal; therefore, how could there be any incentive to conceal any test?

The file adds detail to the donations.

It has long been known that there were two donations, one of $25,000, the other of $100,000.

The $25,000 came in May, 2002. It was used to finance testing in the junior (17-18 year-old) and under-23 (19-22 year-old) ranks, the file says.

Armstrong offered the $100,000 in the first half of 2005, to be used to buy a new Sysmex blood analyzer, which counts reticulocytes, or new blood cells. Such cells can serve as markers for blood doping; an athlete who is using EPO or who is blood transfusing typically would not be producing new blood cells in the normal way.

The UCI bought the machine in July, 2005, paying for it with its own money. That's because, the file says, Armstrong hadn't yet made good on his offer and the machine was "urgently needed for the fight against doping." Armstrong was "reminded of his promise later in 2005 and again in 2006," eventually sending the money in January 2007, a year and a half after he had retired, the file notes.

"With the benefit of hindsight, in particular given his subsequent confessions, it is clear that Armstrong deceived his sport, as well as the UCI, and that it would have been wiser not to have accepted these donations from him."

Which is the issue critics have in the first instance with the donations themselves, right?

"Nevertheless," the file goes on to assert," the donations had no influence on the UCI's testing of Armstrong," nor on any anti-doping entity.


Armstrong's 2001 Swiss Tour: no cover-up, "suspicious" tests


For nearly a dozen years, speculation has swirled that Lance Armstrong failed at least one doping test at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, in particular for the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin, or EPO. Even as Armstrong has in recent months acknowledged the serial doping that won him seven straight Tour de France championships from 1999 to 2005, the matter of the 2001 Tour of Switzerland has remained contentious.

Anti-doping officials have made plain their assertion Armstrong’s tests were “suspicious” for EPO. Many have wondered if there was a cover-up. Leaders from cycling’s international governing body, which goes by the acronym UCI, have said there was nothing to cover-up because Armstrong never tested positive.

Now, finally:

During the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, according to the lab reports themselves, Armstrong never tested positive.

At the same time, two of his samples were, indeed, categorized as “highly suspicious.” But after extensive testing – all of it conducted in the summer of 2001 – neither met the standard to be formally declared positive.

The lab results are included with a five-page letter sent Thursday from UCI president Pat McQuaid to World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman. USADA, copied on the letter, concerned with what it called “numerous inaccuracies and misstatements,” issued a seven-page response on Friday, signed by general counsel William Bock III.

Both letters, now circulating in the international sports community, were obtained by 3 Wire Sports.

In the UCI letter, McQuaid asserts the lengthy explanation and the documents themselves “finally puts pay to the completely untrue allegations” of a positive 2001 test and “any subsequent cover-up by the UCI.”

For the UCI, it must be understood, this is a – if not the – key point: no cover-up.

To emphasize that point, McQuaid says the UCI would be “very grateful” if WADA or USADA would make a public statement “confirming the information in this letter,” keeping in mind the “great damage” done to UCI’s reputation “by these false and scurrilous allegations.”

The USADA response: if UCI officials had “strong evidence” way back in 2001 that Armstrong was using synthetic EPO, why didn’t they do something about it then?

To that end, the USADA reply includes a “short list” of 10 “new concerns” and a request for seven buckets of new information relating to Armstrong tests for the years 1999-2010.

Its letter asserts the documents the UCI turned over were “quite incomplete” but also says, “USADA is thankful that the UCI has now belatedly come around to USADA’s position that it is appropriate for the UCI to share with USADA and others in the sports world Mr. Armstrong’s test results.”

As recited in the USADA “Reasoned Decision,” issued last October, which sets forth in detail Armstrong’s pattern of doping, the 2001 Tour of Switzerland – a warm-up for the Tour de France – took place from June 19-28.

Armstrong won the event.

Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, both former Armstrong lieutenants, provided USADA with affidavits. Armstrong said or implied he had tested positive in the Swiss race but had been able to “make the EPO test result go away,” according to USADA’s case.

Armstrong’s conversation with Hamilton was in 2001, with Landis in 2002. Landis recalled Armstrong saying he and team leader Johan Bruyneel “flew to the UCI headquarters and made a financial agreement to keep the positive test hidden.”

It has long been public knowledge that Armstrong made a significant contribution to help the federation in its anti-doping efforts. UCI documented the payments last October, two contributions totaling $125,000, McQuaid saying then it was “absolute rubbish” to suggest they had been given to cover up a test.

In his January interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong said the donations were “not in exchange for help. They called and said they didn’t have a lot of money; I did. They asked if I would make a donation, so I did.”

McQuaid, last October, contrasting UCI’s finances with those of soccer’s wealthy governing body FIFA, said UCI would still accept such a donation – even now. “But,” he said, “we would accept it differently and announce it differently than before.”

The intent with regard to the lab documents, McQuaid said in the UCI letter, was to present them to a so-called “independent commission” that was under consideration after release of the USADA case against Armstrong. That commission, though, never got going, disbanded earlier this year after discussions with WADA.

Given that development and other issues related to USADA, UCI opted to send the lab results Thursday to WADA.

Armstrong’s “public confession has now lifted any confidentiality issues,” the UCI letter notes.

Armstrong was tested five times during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland – on June 19, 20, 26, 27 and 28.

Three of those five included EPO tests – June 19, 26 and 27.

The accredited lab at Lausanne, Switzerland, conducted the battery of tests.

“As you can see,” the UCI letter says, “every analysis result for Lance Armstrong is reported by the lab as being negative.”

Even so, both the June 19 and June 26 samples contain the same remark. Translated from the French: “strong suspicion of the presence of EPO, the positivity criteria are not all met.”

The June 27 sample simply says, negative.

The June 19 sample was originally tested on July 6; the June 26 sample on July 12. They were sent to and received by the cycling federation after the July 7 start of the 2001 Tour de France, the UCI letter says.

Both samples were then run through more extensive testing.

To simplify the complicated science:

The Lausanne lab considered a sample positive if what are called “basic bands” registered above 80 percent. It considered it “highly suspicious” if it fell above 70.2 and below 80.

Armstrong’s June 19 sample was numbered 106209.

The secondary report was done on Aug. 10, 2001.

The percentage: 75.1.

The July 6 test results from the June 19 sample, with the French notation for "strong suspicion" of EPO usage, triggering further testing

The results page for the June 19 sample, established Aug. 10, 2001, showing a 75.1 percentage: "highly suspicious"

Armstrong’s June 26 sample was numbered 106106.

The latter report was done on Aug. 7.

The percentage: 70.0.

Even though it fell just outside the category of “highly suspicious,” it was nonetheless categorized that way.

To McQuaid, the conclusion was thus, as he declares on page 3 of the UCI letter: “I reiterate therefore that not one of Armstrong’s samples could in any way have been considered to be positive results.”

The USADA response asserts, in part, “It is now apparent that the UCI has long had in its possession multiple samples from Lance Armstrong which contained synthetic EPO and which raised strong concerns regarding the legitimacy of all of his competitive results since at least 1999. It is shocking and disheartening that the UCI would accept cash payments from Armstrong after the UCI had test results in its possession demonstrating that Armstrong’s samples contained synthetic EPO.”

The USADA letter asks why, among other issues, the UCI did not pursue a case against Armstrong based on those samples and samples from other races in combination with other so-called “non-analytical” evidence, such as witness statements. To not do so, the USADA letter asserts, “appears to have been grossly negligent or worse.”

Armstrong and Bruyneel were told about the suspicious tests during the 2001 Tour de France; Armstrong categorically denied doping, according to the UCI letter. He also questioned the reliability of the EPO test, which had been put into practice just four months before, on April 9, 2001.

During the 2001 Tour de France, Armstrong was tested 10 times, and five times for EPO at the request of the UCI, according to the UCI letter.

The French lab, outside Paris, reported all the results as negative. The highest percentage: 72. This result was not even reported as suspicious, the UCI letter says, noting that the Lausanne and French labs did not use the same criteria.


Lance Armstrong under oath

As Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey nears, the World Anti-Doping Agency has made clear he must confess under oath to seek a reduction in the life ban announced in October for doping. Armstrong has testified under oath before. It may now shed light on his demeanor as well as his credibility to revisit comments he made under oath in 2006 in connection with a contentious contract dispute.

Like many if not most commercial arbitrations, the proceedings were held in confidence. Over the years, Armstrong's remarks nonetheless have made their way to the public record. That said, his testimony has perhaps not been extensively excerpted.

A Dallas company, SCA Promotions, Inc., had offered to pay Armstrong a bonus if he won the 2004 Tour de France. He did. The firm then resisted making the payment after allegations of doping surfaced. The matter proceeded to arbitration.

Under oath, Armstrong testified Jan. 12, 2006, in Dallas, before a three-person panel.

The case would be settled before the panel took action, SCA agreeing to pay the $5 million fee, plus interest and attorney costs, a total of $7.5 million.

In the aftermath of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report issued last October that said Armstrong doped to win the Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005, SCA has made plain it wants its money back.

Armstrong was represented in the SCA matter by his longtime attorney, Tim Herman of Austin, Texas. SCA was represented by Jeffrey Tillotson, a Dallas lawyer.

Here are excerpts from Armstrong's Jan. 12, 2006, sworn testimony.

For context or comparison, some excerpts also contain information from the October USADA report.


Volume 7, p. 1346

Herman: Well, you've talked about professional cycling and, frankly -- I mean, not just in here but in the press, I mean, you've been called brash, you've been called direct, you've been called, you know, heartless, et cetera. Tell us -- how do you feel about those characterizations of your personality?

Armstrong: You know, we were competitive. We had one goal and one ambition and that was to win the greatest bike race in the world and not just win it once, but to keep winning it. And I suppose we could have been viewed as ruthless and evil and mean and cheaters and crooks and thieves and frauds, but we were not particularly remorseful to the people that came across us. We had this goal, this ambition, and we were asked to do that by our fans and by ourselves and by our sponsors and to perform and do our job.


p. 1355-56

Herman: In 1995, during the season, did you engage in any -- well, let me just ask you this, first of all, have you ever engaged in any performance enhancing, any prohibited substance?

Armstrong: No, never.

Herman: Ever?

Armstrong: Ever.

Herman: It's been suggested that individually certain members of the Motorola team began such a program in 1995.

Armstrong: Uh-huh.

Herman: Do you have any knowledge of that at all?

Armstrong: Well, only based on what I've heard through -- through situations like this or cases like this. You know, if you say individually, you know, I don't know if somebody individually beats their wife. I don't know if somebody individually takes EPO. I don't know. I can speak for myself and tell you that that  never -- on both counts. I would never beat my wife and I never took performance-enhancing drugs. But what riders do at home and in the privacy and comfort of their own home I can't comment on.


[Betsy Andreu, the wife of Frankie Andreu, an Armstrong teammate, testified that during an Indianapolis hospital visit in October, 1996, she heard Armstrong tell a doctor he took various banned drugs, including EPO]

p. 1366-67

Armstrong: We were in the room. I don't recall anybody coming in to take medical records, nor do I understand -- a couple of things, why they would have come in three days after brain surgery when they clearly would have taken medical records before, why they would have come in and asked those questions in front of your friends, specifically your mother, during a Cowboys game, and why I would have answered I've taken this, this, this and this when I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs. So when I put those together, I try to understand why that happened and I don't understand that.


USADA p. 31-2: On the first day of the [1999] Tour Lance seized the yellow jersey by winning the prologue. A few days later the USPS team was notified that Armstrong had had a corticosteroid positive. According to those who were there, Armstrong did not have a medical authorization at the time to use cortisone and the positive drug test set off a scramble.

… Emma O'Reilly was in the room giving Armstrong a massage when Armstrong and team officials fabricated a story to cover the positive test. Armstrong and the team officials agreed to have Dr. Del Moral backdate a prescription for cortisone cream for Armstrong which they would claim had been prescribed in advance of the Tour to treat a saddle sore. O'Reilly understood from Armstrong, however, that the positive test had not come from a topical cream but had really come about from a cortisone injection Armstrong received around the time of the Route du Sud a few weeks earlier.

p. 1369-70

Herman: It's been suggested that -- that you had a positive drug test for cortisone during the 1999 Tour de France. Explain to the panel what really happened.

Armstrong: Well, what really happened is what the test indicates is that I was given a topical cream for what we call a saddle sore, which is a -- I don't know how to describe a saddle sore, but it's common in cycling, if you sit on a bike all day long. A topical cream to alleviate that, to take the pain away, make it go away, and there were traces of cortisone found in the urine. Had that been a -- used for performance enhancing ways or means, you would have seen that in the test, but the test completely indicated topical cream.

Herman: And did the traces that showed up -- did they meet the threshold for a positive test in any event?

Armstrong: No.

Herman: It's been suggested by some that you scurried around and got a post-dated or predated prescription for your tropical cream; is that true?

Armstrong: Not -- no, not true.


p. 1377-78

[on the 2000 Tour de France]

Armstrong: … [B]asically, the entire [French law enforcement] investigation centered in and around the drug called Activogen [sic], which was carried for one of our staff members for whatever reason he needed it.

… Activogen, of course, was approved to bring into the country. That's the reason it was there for the staff member. They refused to acknowledge that. It didn't matter that their minister of health had stamped that approval. But this was a mysterious thing for them. They thought that this was some nefarious EPO substitute.

And that was the case …

USADA p. 43-45

Writing about the French investigation and the substance Actovegin on his website, Armstrong said:

'I will say that the substance on people's minds, Activ-o-something … is new to me. Before this ordeal I had never heard of it nor had my teammates.

… Actovegin was, in fact, and contrary to Armstrong's and the team's statements, regularly used by the riders on the team and was regularly administered by the team medical staff specifically because it was believed by the team medical staff that Actovegin would enhance a rider's athletic performance. Thus, it is apparent that Mr. Armstrong and the team intentionally issued false and misleading statements regarding the use to which Actovegin was put on the U.S. Postal Service team.

… In other words, if Lance Armstrong was willing to lie about Actovegin -- and he clearly did lie about Actovegin -- there is little reason to believe that Armstrong would not be willing to lie about other products and with regard to other topics.


[referring to a falling out in 2001 with three-time Tour de France champion Greg Lemond]

p. 1394

Herman: Did you, during that conversation, which I understand was as a result of being sad, as you put it, about those criticisms from Mr. Lemond, did you during that conversation admit to Mr. Lemond that you had engaged in some prohibitive [sic] conduct or had taken some prohibitive substance?

Armstrong: Of course not. No, I didn't. As I've said, I would not admit to a doctor or a friend or Greg Lemond that I had taken a substance when I have never taken them, nor would I call him to say why did you say that about me, oh, by the way I'm going to admit that to you. That would be in the ridiculous category, too. I called simply just to get an understanding for whether or not he did or didn't say that and it turned into really a nightmare of a conversation.


p. 1396-98

Herman: How -- how do you view your role now --

Armstrong: Uh-huh.

Herman: -- with respect to the work of your foundation and your involvement --

Armstrong: Uh-huh.

Herman: -- with either cancer victims or survivors or families?

Armstrong: Survivors. For me now that's my new peak. I mean, that's the thing where I need to be making the best use of my time and that's the place where I firmly believe that I can make a difference for the rest of time. You know, we are faced with -- not to get up here and preach, but since you asked, we're faced with a real dilemma here and a real predicament in that we are soon going to have the number one killer in America on our hands and the funds are decreasing as rapidly as the illness is increasing. And it's now my job, honestly, to change that.

And not just on a small level. We can do rides in Austin, we can do the Tour of Hope, but those raise millions of dollars. I'm talking about raising billions of dollars and the budget of the NCI is $4 billion and increasing. Iraq cost us five or 600 billion. It's time for this country to step up and realize that this is a serious killer and recommit ourselves. Not to get on my soapbox, but that's a priority for me and I want to make a difference there. We have seen people use their careers for -- success in their careers for the good of mankind and they can leverage that sometimes and I hope to do that. That's why this stuff is so unfortunate.

Herman: This stuff --

Armstrong: This stuff.

Herman: -- being?

Armstrong: This room. This stuff that we have to listen to, the stuff that the panel us going to have to listen to. It's not true, it's not fair, it's not morally responsible, and it would ultimately -- you know, if this courtroom was on CSPAN or was on CNN or Court TV it would have a drastic effect on what I'm trying to do off the bike. And, of course, this is not -- that's not the case fortunately, but I'm personally offended by that. And I think we all would be if you were in my shoes or my position because, as I said we have a lot of choices to make every day in how to use our time and this isn't my idea of a good time. I race the bike straight up fair and square. Yeah, there are questions, good performance is a question. But this stuff we are going to see in here it goes beyond.


p. 1402-03

Herman: If someone -- there was a suggestion that you had made a -- a contribution to the UCI or the International Cycling Federation -- or Union?

Armstrong: Union.

Herman: Why did you do that and was there -- did you receive any preferential treatment as a result?

Armstrong: Well, I never received preferential treatment. The UCI is not a cash rich organization, they struggle on an annual basis with budgets and boards and directors and just getting by like a lot of companies and organizations and governing bodies. So, yeah, I made a contribution there to help them fund and fight the war against drugs or doping.

Of course, that's been viewed as Al Capone buying police cars for the Chicago police department, too, but it's not that. It's not -- there's other things that are right in line with that.

Herman: Is there anything improper at all about making a contribution to help fund an anti-doping program?

Armstrong: I would hope not. In -- in fact, I encouraged other athletes to do the same and I don't think anybody else did.


p. 1403-04

Herman: All right. Let me -- let me change topics with you. Dr. Ferrari's name has been thrown around here and, you know, without engaging in hyperbole, I think the suggestion has been that Dr. Ferrari is a -- is a doping doctor and that anyone who deals with Dr. Ferrari is a doper. You've heard that before?

Armstrong: I've heard that.

… Of course, he came here as in Europe with a bit of a dodgy reputation. All we can do is evaluate that by what we know and what we see and what we are told. We never had any reason to believe that this guy is dirty. In fact, we had reason to believe the opposite.


p. 1411

Herman: But I guess the fundamental question is, did Dr. Ferrari ever prescribe, administer or suggest any kind of a drug or doping program for you?

Armstrong: He did not.

USADA p. 47: … The evidence is overwhelming that from 1999 through 2005 Michele Ferrari played a major role with the U.S. Postal Service/Discovery Channel team and in Lance Armstrong's doping program.


p. 1414-15

Herman: There has been a suggestion that a research project undertaken by someone in Europe in 2005 revealed the presence of exogenous EPO in urine samples that had been frozen since 1999.

Armstrong: Well, when I gave the sample, there was no EPO in the urine … I'll go to my grave knowing that when I urinated in the bottle, it was clean.

USADA p. 33: For the first two weeks of the [1999] Tour, Armstrong, [Tyler] Hamilton and [Kevin] Livingston "used EPO every third or fourth day." The EPO was already loaded in syringes upon delivery and the riders "would inject quickly and then put the syringes in a bag or Coke can and Dr. del Moral would get the syringe out of the camper as quickly as possible."


under cross-examination

[referring to an exhibit, an April 2001 Armstrong statement]

p. 1418-19

Tillotson: I'm sorry. Let me direct your attention to the fourth paragraph down, Mr. Armstrong. Last sentence of that paragraph. You say, I welcome the continued testing so there will be no doubt that neither I nor any member of my team did or took anything illegal, right?

Armstrong: Yes.

Tillotson: And to say such a statement you have to have some confidence that your team members are not using performance-enhancing drugs, correct?

Armstrong: That's why we turned over the samples.


p. 1420-22

[referring to a statement on The Paceline, a team website]

Tillotson: Okay. And you said in this statement that I showed one thing clear, I believe in clean and fair competition and, as I said before, I do not use and have never used performance-enhancing drugs. Do you see that?

Armstrong: I see that.

Tillotson: And that kind of statement has been made by you throughout the course of your career from 1999 through January of 2005, fair?

Armstrong: Correct.

Tillotson: … And it's not just in response to a particular allegation I mean, when you write things like in your book, It's Not About the Bike, you certainly say in your book that you had never used performance-enhancing drugs, correct?

Armstrong: Right.

Tillotson: And that wasn't really in response to any particular charge, it was a statement about yourself in this book?

Armstrong: The book -- the book was written and authored just after the first Tour and there was a lot of talk not just in France, but all over the world about the drugs, about what happened in '98, about their disbelief and what could happen in '99. So, you know, I think that's in response, too.

Tillotson: So that the public will know your side of the story regarding some of these charges and allegations?

Armstrong: Yes.

Tillotson: Fair?

Armstrong: We always like the public to know our side of the story, all of us do.


p. 1425

Tillotson: And one of the reasons it's true, is it not, that your sponsors don't call you and ask these kinds of questions is because you've made your position regarding the non-use of drugs perfectly clear in the media?

Armstrong: I've -- I've made what I know to be the truth to be perfectly clear to the media.


[on the incident in October, 1996, in the Indianapolis hospital]

p. 1447

Tillotson: Now, I believe you said in your deposition and -- I asked you then and I'll ask it here in these proceedings, why Betsy Andreu would lie about a serious thing as your supposed admission of performance-enhancing drugs, and I believe your response was that she doesn't like you. Is that fair?

Armstrong: Well, I think my response was and that was at the deposition she looked me right in eye [sic] and she said, oh, no, I hate him, which is -- is a little different than I just don't like him.

Tillotson: It was --

Armstrong: It was venomous.

Tillotson: All right. Venomous, okay.

It is your testimony, then that she -- she's making the story up and she must be doing it out of dislike, hate, venom for you?

Armstrong: That's right, yes.

Tillotson: And her husband, of course, has corroborated the story?

Armstrong: I understand that.

Tillotson: And he doesn't hate you, does he?

Armstrong: I don't know. I don't think so. He -- there's something there with his -- as I told you -- and I love how you isolated that in the pre-hearing brief -- to protect his old lady, but there's something there with that relationship that I'm not real clear on.

Tillotson: Well, I think you told me in your deposition that you didn't really know Betsy that well?

Armstrong: Well, I learned early on that I didn't want to get to know her very well.


p. 1474-75

Tillotson: Okay. Now, Mr. Andreu testified in his deposition that at one point you showed him some pills that you took during a race and talked about when you would take them. Have you seen that testimony?

Armstrong: I have not seen it, but I heard about it.

Tillotson: You were asked in your deposition by Mr. Herman and I don't think we heard an explanation for what those pills were. Do you know what those pills were?

Armstrong: Did we cover that? I think we did go back and cover it, but, I have to confess, I'm -- if you want a confession, I'm a bit of a coffee fiend. That's the extent of my performance-enhancing drugs.

Tillotson: Is it your testimony that those pills were caffeine pills?

Armstrong: That's my testimony. And I --

Tillotson: You would have taken several caffeine pills during intervals of a race?

Armstrong: Yeah, which are, to the panel, not banned -- well, they are banned to a certain degree, but I would -- I certainly would never approach that level.


[Canadian lawyer Dick Pound was at the time the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency]

p. 1480

Tillotson: You've had some rocky relations with WADA, have you not, with Mr. Pound?

Armstrong: No. I've asked Mr. Pound to be fair and open and honest and somewhat respectful of what cycling has done over the years. I think -- I mean, I'm sure we will see the testimony, cycling has done more than any endurance sport to fight doping. I've -- that's what I've asked Dick to do is just acknowledge that there could be a problem. Let's get the cheaters, punish them hard. But you have to recognize that no sport has done what cycling has done.


p. 1483

Armstrong: … And they've been coming for years -- man, they've been coming for years after me. And this may be -- they may say oh, we got it. They didn't.


re-direct examination

p. 1491

Herman: Did you -- have you ever, Mr. Armstrong, ever wavered in your unqualified support for stringent drug testing and penalties?

Armstrong: Never.


USADA's 'overwhelming' case against Lance Armstrong

On Wednesday, at my kids' school, at the outdoor amphitheater with the sun shining bright in the brilliant blue of an October California morning sky, I had the privilege of moderating a panel at which four U.S. Olympians spoke about dreams, goals, hard work and effort. Steve Lewis, the 1988 gold medalist in the 400 meters, delighted everyone with the tale of how he won when nobody thought he could. Courtney Mathewson talked about how the 2012 U.S. women's water polo team came together to win gold for the very first time. Nicole Davis, the U.S. women's volleyball libero, spoke about how persistence and effort had driven her and the team to silver in 2008 and 2012.

And Alexi Lalas, who played on the 1992 and 1996 soccer teams and is now an ESPN analyst, reminded everyone that winning isn't everything. It's the taking part. It's the struggle, the journey. It's -- the dream.

At the end of the program, we allotted 20 minutes for photos and autographs. You should have seen the kids, and even the grown-ups, rush down with their iPhones, their cameras and their pens and paper.

It's important to put all of that front and center on a day like Wednesday, when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency set forth in black and white the details of the "overwhelming" case against Lance Armstrong.

It's far too easy to make the case against Armstrong what, on one level, it is: a simple legal matter.

But that's not what it's about.

It's about something much, much bigger.

It's about changing the culture of sport.

That change has to happen so that we can all get back to what really matters: dreams, and goals, and autographs and pictures.

Doping is cheating. Cheating is wrong. There's no grey there.

Only by breaking through the code of silence in cycling, the "omertà,"  and getting those who had made bad choices to acknowledge them -- that, from the start, has always been USADA's ambition.

The document made public Wednesday marks a major step forward.

To be clear, none of the evidence detailed by USADA was obtained by the U.S. grand jury inquiry in Los Angeles involving Armstrong that was closed in February without the filing of any charges. Again -- none. USADA said Wednesday it had asked for copies of non-grand jury evidence but has gotten nothing.

Instead, it said, after that inquiry closed it launched its own and came to an unequivocal conclusion:

"… Lance Armstrong and his handlers engaged in a massive and long running scheme to use drugs, cover their tracks, intimidate witnesses, tarnish reputations, lie to hearing panels and the press and do whatever was necessary to conceal the truth."

The evidence against Armstrong, USADA emphasized, is "beyond strong; it is as strong as, or stronger than, that presented in any case" in USADA's 12-year existence.

USADA got to that point by offering everyone the same proposition:

Cycling has a doping problem. Meet with us. Change the culture. Be part of the solution.

Others took them up on that offer: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, David Zabriskie.

Armstrong did not.

The level of detail in the USADA document can be astonishing.

In 1999, Hamilton told USADA, Armstrong won the Tour by using the banned blood-booster EPO "every third or fourth day."

In 2000, with rumors of a new test for EPO abounding, Hamilton said that 500 cc's of blood taken out earlier that year at a hotel in Valencia, Spain, went back in on the evening of Tuesday, July 11, in the Hôtel l’Esplan in Saint-Paul-Trois- Châteaux near Mount Ventoux; Hamilton said that he, Kevin Livingston and Armstrong -- the three best hill-climbers on the team and thus the three who were getting the transfusions -- "joked about whose body was absorbing the blood the fastest.”

Hincapie, meanwhile, is a five-time Olympian, long considered Armstrong's most trusted lieutenant, the only rider with Armstrong on all seven of Armstrong's winning Tour teams from 1999-2005.

USADA said Hincapie testified that he was aware of Armstrong's use of the blood-booster EPO and blood transfusions; that Armstrong provided EPO to him, Hincapie, for his own use; that Hincapie, like Armstrong, was a client of the Italian Dr. Michele Ferrari, who incorporated EPO and blood-doping into Hincapie's training program.

On his own website, Hincapie issued a statement that said he had doped but been clean since 2006. Two years ago, he said, he had been approached by U.S. federal investigators; more recently, by USADA. He said he "understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything that I knew. So that is what I did."

Ferrari is blandly described in the document as a "consultant" to pro cyclists.

The evidence, according to USADA, further includes banking and accounting records from a Swiss company controlled by Ferrari reflecting more than $1 million in payments by Armstrong; extensive e-mails back and forth between Ferrari and his son and Armstrong during a time period when Armstrong claimed not to be in touch; and a "vast amount of additional data," including lab test results and expert analysis of Armstrong's blood work.

Vande Velde, in a statement on his website posted Wednesday, said, "Ironically, I never won while doping. I was more or less treading water. This does not make it OK. I saw the line and I crossed it, myself. I am deeply sorry for the decisions I made in the past -- to my family, my fans, my peers, to the sport that I love and those in and out of it -- I'm sorry. I always will be."

Barry, in a statement posted Wednesday on his site, said, "As a boy, my dream was to become a professional cyclist who raced at the highest level in Europe." He signed his first contract with the U.S. Postal team in 2002: "Soon after I realized reality was not what I had dreamed. Doping had become an epidemic problem in professional cycling."

He went on to say that he doped, that he regretted it and that in 2006 he became a "proponent of clean cycling," adding, "I apologize to those I deceived … I will work hard to regain people's trust."

It would have been unthinkable to see such confessions made public even just weeks ago -- before USADA's case against Armstrong.

The USADA document released Wednesday, formally called a "reasoned decision," runs to more than 200 pages. It will be further dissected, and appropriately, in the days and weeks to come.

What matters most is that it's out there. As it says on page five: "It is important that facts relating to doping not be hidden from public view so that there is confidence in case outcomes and sport can learn from each case."

Twelve years to re-shuffle a relay race?

LONDON -- Everybody has family pictures. One in our house was taken in the Hawaiian Islands in October of 2000. This was when I was on my way back from the Sydney Olympics. My wife and three kids flew out from California, and we had a little vacation. In that picture, our oldest daughter was 6. Her brother had just weeks before turned 4. Their baby sister was literally a baby; she was 1.

I was reminded of that photo on Saturday when the International Olympic Committee announced it had re-allocated the medals from the U.S. men's 4x400-meter relay team from the Sydney Games because of admitted doping by Antonio Pettigrew. The IOC bumped Nigeria to gold, Jamaica to silver and the Bahamas from fourth to bronze.

It's all way too late.

So much time has passed that my oldest daughter has just graduated from high school; her brother now has his California driver's permit; and the baby is a teen-ager, in her fourth year of the Los Angeles County junior lifeguard program, swimming for three hours each morning in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean.

If that's not enough to prove the passage of time, to show just how ridiculous it is the IOC is only now getting around to this, here is the emphatic point of all points:

Antonio Pettigrew is dead.

He died in 2010 from an overdose of sleeping pills, found dead in his car in North Carolina. He was 42.

I have been to, and successfully completed, law school. I understand civilized society depends on a framework of laws. But we cannot live in a society in which lawyering, and rules, carry on for 12 long years until there is resolution over a relay race.

It is a basic principle of the anti-doping system that it depends on credibility and the good faith of those involved in it.

I am not suggesting here -- not for even a second -- that this devolved into a matter of bad faith. Not at all. This process was carried out in good faith.

It simply took 12 years.

And that plain fact tends to significantly undermine the credibility of the system.

Justice delayed -- as in this instance -- is no justice whatsoever.

How do you think the Nigerians are feeling now about Saturday's move? Exultant? Gratified?

Or -- hollow?

There is always a tension between, on the one hand, the reality that all things are revealed in the fullness of time and, on the other, the essential need to say, OK, enough, let's move along.

The IOC executive board's other actions Saturday further underscored the intersections and frustrations at issue when it comes to juridical resolution in anti-doping matters, where a variety of complex interests are often on the table:

-- American Crystal Cox, who has admitted to doping, was stripped of her gold medal from the Athens 2004 4x400 relay. But the board put off a decision on whether to disqualify the relay team itself. It said it's now up to the rules of track and field's governing body, the IAAF, whether to disqualify the team.

A factor that may be at work: Cox ran in the preliminaries of the relay, not the finals.

Another: were the relevant IAAF rules in effect at the time of the 2004 Games?

-- The board said it is waiting for more documents in the case of American cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who won the time-trial gold medal in Athens. President Jacques Rogge said at a news conference that the matter would be decided within two weeks, the IOC apparently still waiting for more information from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Hamilton, who for years steadfastly denied doping, abruptly told CBS' "60 Minutes" last year that he had repeatedly used performance-enhancing drugs.

-- The IOC apparently took no action on suspicious results uncovered during recent re-testing of Athens Games samples. The chairman of the IOC medical commission, Sweden's Arne Ljungqvist, told Associated Press a few days ago that he is investigating up to five possible positive results.

The backup "B" samples have not yet been tested. No one yet knows the identities of the athletes involved. The IOC stores doping samples from each Games for eight years to allow for re-tests.

One can only imagine what will happen if those samples turn out positive.

As Rogge said at the news conference, when asked about Hamilton, "Have some patience. It will come."

Tyler Hamilton says he told the whole truth and nothing but

Of all the things Tyler Hamilton told "60 Minutes," one passage in particular called to me with special clarity. He said, "Well, there's a lot of other cheats and liars out there, too, who've gotten away with it. It's not just Lance, you know? I mean, with a little luck, I'd still be out there today being a cheat and liar."

Over the years, I have been asked far too many times to count whether I think Lance Armstrong doped to win the Tour de France.

My answer consistently has been, one, Armstrong insists he has done nothing wrong and is absolutely entitled to the presumption of innocence and, two, all things in the fullness of time.

Meaning: let's see what time, and the justice system, bring. If anything.

On the occasion of Hamilton's appearance on "60 Minutes," during which he said he was repeating what he told the federal grand jury hearing the Armstrong matter, it is also worth emphasizing that only the United States government, in its pursuit of what it deems justice, has the means to get the truth out of people who otherwise might well be out there being cheats and liars.

In elegant simplicity, that also may explain as much as anything why the government cares about Armstrong.

Has Armstrong done incredible good for cancer patients and their families? Yes.

Is that good premised on his heroism? Yes.

Does that heroism rest on his seven victories at the Tour de France? Yes.

Isn't that heroism predicated on him winning fair and square?

If that's the core question, there's this:

The government cares a great deal indeed about the truth. It is the bedrock of the entire justice system.

Hamilton ended up testifying before the grand jury in Los Angeles only after being subpoenaed -- that is, he had not gone voluntarily. The "60 Minutes" thing -- that was a choice, with which the Armstrong camp found fault.

Watching the screen, I thought of the day in 2005 I sat in Hamilton's living room in Colorado. He and his then-wife, Haven, said they had no idea why the authorities were insisting he had been caught blood doping in September 2004 in Spain, just a couple weeks after he had won a gold medal in the cycling time trial in the Athens Summer Games; legal papers filed in his defense were suggesting the far-out possibility of a "vanishing twin."

It's entirely one thing to sit in your living room and say anything you want to a sportswriter. What's the worst thing that happens? He or she prints it. So what? Stuff gets printed every day. The next day, new stuff gets printed.

When you lie to a federal grand jury, and they catch you at it, you risk going to prison. Ask Marion Jones.

Her case, the Barry Bonds trial, the Roger Clemens case and now this Armstrong inquiry underscore a critical point: Sports officials do not have the power to compel the truth. Only the public authorities do, with subpoenas and matchless financial resource and of course the threat of prison or other consequence.

It's intriguing now to watch Armstrong maneuver. Consider the Twitter post he issued last Thursday, as word broke of Hamilton's upcoming "60 Minutes" appearance: "20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case."

A bold -- as usual -- public-relations effort.

As the World Anti-Doping Agency's David Howman, emphasizing that he was speaking generally and not about Armstrong or anyone in particular, said Monday, "There's a certain fragility to the testing system, and a sophisticated doper can beat it."

If this ever gets to court, that point would become apparent.

For instance, Hamilton told "60 Minutes" Armstrong used the blood-booster EPO in 1999.

EPO was by then banned. But a test for it wasn't finalized until just before the Sydney Olympics, which took place in September, 2000.

So saying you might have passed x number of tests when y number perhaps didn't include a test for the most relevant illicit substance in recent years in cycling proves -- what?

Beyond which, Armstrong's tests from the 1999 Tour de France itself have been the subject of considerable controversy. The French newspapers have written about them at length. In 2006, when I was at the LA Times, so did I.

In coming forward, Hamilton moved quickly to give up the gold medal he won in Athens.

Moreover, Hamilton has written a letter to his friends and family that says he was a serial doper. You can read it here. In it, he says that his testimony before the grand jury went on for six hours and that telling the panel what he knew felt "like the Hoover dam breaking."

He says in that letter, "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."

Another former U.S. Postal Service rider, George Hincapie, reportedly told the grand jury that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used another banned substance, testosterone, to get ready for races.

To emphasize: Armstrong has denied any wrongdoing.

Just to think this through:

Would the federal government go to the time, trouble and expense to bring a case against Armstrong and allege merely doping? Does that make sense?

What did it do in the case against Jones? The charges were doping -- and involvement in a bad-check scheme.

Bonds? The charges were perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the government's BALCO investigation -- not whether he had taken steroids per se but whether he had lied about using them.

Common sense says the government would want to build a case against Armstrong in which doping, if alleged, is but part of a wider action. How wide? It's mere speculation because grand juries operate in secret: Drug trafficking? Distribution? Conspiracy? Fraud, money laundering or other financial impropriety?

"My Mom and Dad always told me that the truth would set me free," Hamilton wrote in that letter to friends and family. "I never knew how right they were."