Twitter is likely to be abuzz from midnight UK time tonight as cycling fans in the US get to see the much-anticipated season finale of the CBS news magazine show 60 Minutes which levels further allegations of drugs use against Lance Armstrong. Among those tweeting as the report unfolds on screen will members of the Texan’s own defence team, who have apparently set up an account on the social network, @facts4lance, which is also the name of a website dedicated to putting his case.
Tonight’s episode of 60 Minutes – a show that has an average audience of more than 13 million viewers – includes an interview with Tyler Hamilton in which he accuses his former team leader of doping during the 1999 Tour de France and ahead of other races.
Hamilton, who has also belatedly confessed to his own doping, including returning the gold medal he won in the time trial at the 2004 Olympics, will be repeating allegations he previously made while testifying to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles,
As with previous allegations made Floyd Landis, Armstrong’s defence team have attacked Hamilton’s credibility, including pointing out that he long denied his own history of doping and therefore his testimony cannot be relied upon. However, perjuring oneself in front of a grand jury can result in a jail sentence.
Potentially more damaging for the former US Postal Service and Discovery Channel team leader is that according to CBS, George Hincapie, who rode alongside him during each of his seven Tour de France wins, has reportedly told the grand jury that he and Armstrong both took performance enhancing substances.
Hincapie has long been seen as the closest rider to Armstrong, certainly during the seven years in which he dominated the Tour de France, and moreover does not carry the stigma of previous substance abuse attached to Landis or Hamilton.
Currently racing in the Amgen Tour of California for his current BMC Racing team, Hincapie has said only that he hasn’t spoken to 60 Minutes – something previously confirmed by CBS itself.
On the issue of what he may or may not have told the grand jury, Hincapie is silent, but if he has indeed admitted to using performance enhancing substances, there will clearly be potential repercussions for the cyclist himself, let alone those relating to anything he may have said about Armstrong.
As far as we are aware it will not be possible to watch tonight’s programme live from the UK, although it should subsequently be available to watch again on the 60 Minutes website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.