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DENVER – Exactly two months from the day the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is scheduled to take flight in the Colorado Rockies, CBS News aired an explosive report on star cyclist Lance Armstrong’s alleged “secretive, systematic” drug use last night on “60 Minutes.” Armstrong has been a backer and promoter of the upcoming race, originally labeled as the "inaugural Quiznos Pro Challenge.”
Rick Schaden, former CEO of the sub sandwich chain announced last month that the 600-mile, seven-day bike race would get more recognition and media coverage as a global brand if the Quiznos name was not attached to it. Schaden and his father, attorney Richard Schaden, invested $10 million in the cycling event and have been actively promoting it with Armstrong and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and other politicians.
On last night’s “60 Minutes” report, Tyler Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist and former teammate of Armstrong, told his story publicly for the first time. It “may change the history of sports,” announced CBS reporter Scott Pelley. He said that conducting the three-hour interview was like pulling teeth. It was hard for Hamilton because it wasn’t just about Armstrong, it was about himself and other teammates. Pelley said the cyclist code of silence was being broken.
Armstrong, known as the American hero who beat cancer to win the Tour de France seven times, is the focus of a federal investigation into charges that he used banned drugs. A grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing secret testimony from some of Armstrong’s former teammates on the U.S. Postal Service team, accusing their team leader of “doping.”
When Pelley asked Hamilton why he was speaking out now, he answered, “Cause it was awful.” Hamilton explained that in racing the team leader is protected by his teammates. It was their job to “clear his path” and to “fend off challengers in the tight pack of competitors that's known as a ‘peloton.’" Hamilton said he saw their leader take performance enhancing drugs, including testosterone and EPO, a drug that boosts the production of red blood cells to enhance endurance. He said Armstrong took what other team members took. There was no difference. Hamilton said he also saw the cycling champion take drugs by blood transfusion.
Hamilton said it was hard to imagine the endurance demanded by the Tour de France, a 21-day, 2,000 mile race with a vicious 50,000 foot vertical climb. He feels that ordeal was the reason that cycling became a dirty sport.
At least three of Armstrong’s teammates are accusing him of using performance enhancing drugs, a charge that Armstrong vehemently denies. CBS said that the cyclist’s attorney Mark Fabiani tore into Hamilton on his client’s publicist’s website facts4lance.com, calling him "a confessed liar in search of a book deal." Prior to the 60 Minutes segment, the CBS investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian stated on Saturday’s Early Show, that nonetheless, “Armstrong is in the biggest mess of his life.”
Steve Brunner head of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge did not return phone call or emails to Blue MauMau to give comment on how the “60 Minutes” segment would affect the upcoming race on August 22. Quiznos refused to be interviewed and would only say they did not wish to make any comment.