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Armstrong Rejects Teammate’s Accusation He Used EPO in 1999 Tour

US Lance Armstrong, left, rides close to compatriot Tyler Hamilton (Team Phonak). Photographer: Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images
US Lance Armstrong, left, rides close to compatriot Tyler Hamilton (Team Phonak). Photographer: Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Lance Armstrong rejected an accusation by former teammate Tyler Hamilton that he used a blood-boosting drug while winning the first of his record seven Tour de France titles in 1999.

Hamilton told “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley that he saw erythropoietin, or EPO, in Armstrong’s refrigerator and that he witnessed his U.S. Postal Service teammate inject the banned substance, which boosts the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells and improves stamina.

Hamilton’s interview, portions of which were shown last night on the CBS Evening News, will be broadcast May 22. Hamilton tested positive for blood doping at the 2004 Athens Olympics and later was suspended twice for using performance-enhancing drugs.

“Hamilton just duped the CBS Evening News, 60 Minutes and Scott Pelley all in one fell swoop,” Armstrong’s spokesman, Mark Fabiani, said in an e-mailed statement. “Hamilton is actively seeking to make money by writing a book, and now he has completely changed the story he has always told before so that he could get himself on 60 Minutes and increase his chances with publishers.”

Armstrong, 39, who retired from cycling in February, has denied doping and has never failed a drug test. He won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005 after surviving testicular cancer that spread to his brain.

“Greed and a hunger for publicity cannot change the facts: Lance Armstrong is the most tested athlete in the history of sports,” Fabiani’s statement said. “He has passed nearly 500 tests over 20 years of competition.”

Grand Jury Probe

Federal authorities have convened a grand jury in Los Angeles to probe whether Armstrong and his former U.S. Postal team -- which included Hamilton -- were involved in a doping program.

Floyd Landis, another former teammate of Armstrong who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title because of doping, sent cycling authorities a series of e-mails last year accusing Armstrong and U.S. Postal team officials of breaking doping rules. Armstrong and other team officials denied those accusations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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