Lance Armstrong’s attorneys demanded an on-air apology from CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes” following accusations that Armstrong tested positive for a banned substance at the 2001 Tour of Switzerland cycling race.
Attorneys John Keker and Elliot Peters write in the May 31 letter, a copy of which was provided to Bloomberg News, that the accusations by former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton are “incorrect, false and broadcast in error.” Hamilton’s interview was featured May 22 on “60 Minutes.”
“A record of all positive tests recorded during that race demonstrates that Mr. Armstrong did not test positive,” the lawyers said in the letter to CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager. “Had there been a positive test, it would be easy to prove.”
CBS News said its story was “truthful, accurate and fair.”
“Lance Armstrong and his lawyers were given numerous opportunities to respond to every detail of our reporting for weeks prior to the broadcast and their written responses were fairly and accurately included in the story,” Fager, who also is executive producer of “60 Minutes,” said in a statement. “Mr. Armstrong still has not addressed charges by teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie that he used performance-enhancing drugs with them.”
Hamilton said in the “60 Minutes” interview 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, while Armstrong was winning the first of his record seven Tour de France titles in 1999.
Armstrong rejected those accusations. Armstrong, 39, who retired from cycling in February, has said repeatedly that he 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.
Hamilton tested positive for doping at the 2004 Athens Olympics and later was suspended twice for using performance-enhancing drugs.
On May 23, the International Cycling Union called Hamilton’s accusations of a coverup of a 2001 Tour of Switzerland positive drug test by Armstrong “completely unfounded.”
Armstrong is being investigated by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, said a person familiar with the matter who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
Floyd Landis, another former teammate of Armstrong who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title because of doping, sent cycling authorities e-mails last year accusing Armstrong and U.S. Postal team officials of breaking anti-drug rules. Armstrong and other team officials denied those accusations.