Tour de France - Hincapie 'says Armstrong used PEDs'
Further clouds gathered over Lance Armstrong when it was reported that his former team-mate George Hincapie has informed the federal authorities that he witnessed the seven-time Tour de France winner using performance enhancing drugs.
Hincapie, who now rides for BMC, rode for US Postal from 1997 to 2004 with Armstrong. The two men are close friends and were team-mates for each of Armstrong's record seven Tour victories.
US news agency AP claims the American investigative TV programme "60 Minutes" will report this Sunday that Hincapie testified to the FDA that he and Armstrong supplied each other with the endurance-boosting substance EPO and discussed using another banned substance, testosterone, to prepare for races.
A segment of the report was aired on the "CBS Evening News" on Friday one day after it broadcast an interview with Tyler Hamilton, another former team-mate of Armstrong, who said he also used PEDs with Armstrong.
Hamilton has since surrendered his 2004 Olympic gold time trial medal after confessing to doping throughout his career.
Another former close "lieutenant" of Armstrong, the American Floyd Landis, last year also came forward with allegations of foul play within US Postal, claiming organised doping was part of the ethos of the American team.
Frankie Andreu, yet another former team-mate of Armstrong, has also spoken out in support of both Hamilton and Hincapie. Andreu, who rode alongside Armstrong at both Motorola and the US Postal team, admitted in 2006 to drug use in the 1990s.
Armstrong never tested positive during his career and has steadfastly denied doping.
Following the leaked Hamilton interview on Friday, Armstrong sent out a succinct message to his near-three million followers on Twitter: "20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case."
Hincapie, currently riding the Tour of California, has denied talking to CBS, but he has not denied giving evidence to a federal grand jury, which is currently investigating the alleged use of PEDs at US Postal over a decade ago.
"I know you’ve got a job and you’ve got to ask these questions. I’ve got a job too. My job is here to race my bike, promote the sport that we all love; that I’ve sacrificed my whole life for," Hincapie told US website Velonews. "I just have no interest in dragging this sport through the mud, so I’m sorry, but I have no comment.”
HIncapie, 37, also confirmed on Twitter that he never spoke to 60 Minutes. "I have no idea where they got their information. As for the substance of anything in the 60 Minutes story, I cannot comment on anything relating to the ongoing investigation," he wrote.
Of all his former team-mates, Hincapie is considered the closest ally and friend of Armstrong. In an interview last year, Armstrong said Hincapie was "like a brother to me".
When Hincapie narrowly missed out on wearing the Tour de France's yellow jersey back in 2009, Armstrong said via Twitter that "nobody wanted to see him in yellow more than me".