Damning new book by former Lance Armstrong team-mate lifts lid on cycle doping
LANCE Armstrong's former team-mate Tyler Hamilton has lifted the lid on what he claims was institutionalised doping at the US Postal Service team.
In his new book The Secret Race, extracts from which were reproduced in The Times today, Hamilton said Armstrong's former team was "two years ahead of what everybody else was doing" in terms of its alleged doping activities.
The revelations come amid increased scrutiny regarding drugs use in cycling, after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) last week stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles following the Texan's announcement that he would no longer contest long-standing doping charges.
Hamilton and Armstrong rode together for the US Postal team from 1998 to 2001, a period that delivered three of Armstrong's Tour wins.
Hamilton, who has twice been banned for doping offences, has previously spoken out against both Armstrong and the team in interviews with federal criminal investigators.
One of the team's techniques, Hamilton claims, was the use of blood doping, whereby an amount of a rider's blood was extracted, stored and then re-injected to boost the red blood cell count.
"With the other stuff, you swallow a pill or put on a patch or get a tiny injection," Hamilton wrote. "But here you're watching a big clear plastic bag slowly fill up with your warm dark red blood.
"You never forget it."
Hamilton also alleged that at the 1999 Tour Armstrong's gardener, named only as Phillipe, followed the riders on a motorbike carrying a flask containing vials of the blood-boosting drug EPO.
"When we needed Edgar [Allan Poe, a slang term for EPO], Phillipe would zip through the Tour's traffic and make a drop-off," he claimed.
Hamilton also questioned the quality of the doping tests the riders were subjected to.
Armstrong has never failed a doping test, a fact frequently held up by his supporters as proof of his innocence, but Hamilton wrote: "They weren't drug tests. They were more like discipline tests, IQ tests.
"If you were careful and paid attention, you could dope and be 99% certain that you would not get caught.
"They've got their doctors, and we've got ours, and ours are better. Better paid, for sure."
Armstrong's representatives were not immediately available for comment about the book's claims when contacted by Press Association Sport.
Armstrong has always denied using drugs throughout his career.