An edition of the CBS TV programme 60 Minutes Sports to be broadcast tomorrow claims that Lance Armstrong offered the United States Anti-Doping Agency a ‘donation’ of around $250,000 in 2004, which the agency flatly declined.
A report on the CBS News website contains details of an interview conducted for the programme with USADA chief executive Travis Tygart, who led the investigation against Armstrong and others associated with his former US Postal Service team.
Tygart, referring to the proposed donation of what he confirmed was "around [the] ballpark" of $250,000, said: “I was stunned. It was clear – it was a clear conflict of interest for USADA."
He added: "We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer."
Armstrong's attorney, Tim Herman, denied to USA Today that any such offer had been made, saying: "No truth to that story. First Lance heard of it was today. He never made any such contribution or suggestion."
The reported episode, if true, has clear parallels with the controversial donations that he made more than a decade ago totalling $125,000 to the UCI.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said in 2010, “You have to consider that at the time, in 2002, no accusations against Lance Armstrong had been made. They've all came up since then.”
They’d certainly come up by 2005, the year of Armstrong’s seventh and final Tour de France victory – he’s now been stripped of those titles, of course – when the UCI’s accounts department reminded him that he still had to pay $100,000 of the promised sum, which he duly did.
On the 60 Minutes show Tygart describes USADA’s decision to pursue Armstrong once the Department of Justice had dropped its own investigation into him – a move he found “baffling” – as “a fight for the soul of sport.”
It’s not the first time 60 Minutes has turned its attention to the Armstrong affair. In May 2011, while the Federal investigation into US Postal that was subsequently dropped was still ongoing, Tyler Hamilton appeared in an episode in which he admitted his own doping and made detailed allegations against Armstrong and others connected to the team.
His testimony would later form a crucial part of USADA’s case against Armstrong.
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.