NEW YORK — George Hincapie, a longtime member of Lance Armstrong’s inner circle, has told federal authorities he saw the seven-time Tour de France winner use performance-enhancing drugs according to a report by “60 Minutes.’’
A segment of the report aired last night on the “
Hincapie has often been depicted as one of Armstrong’s most loyal teammates and was with him for all seven Tour victories. In an interview last year, Armstrong said Hincapie was “like a brother to me.’’
Hincapie is among a number of former Armstrong teammates and employees who have appeared before a federal grand jury in Los Angeles investigating doping in cycling. Hamilton said he testified for six hours before the panel.
Armstrong has never tested positive and has steadfastly denied doping.
Using unidentified sources, “60 Minutes’’ reported that Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong supplied each other with the endurance-boosting substance EPO and discussed having used another banned substance, testosterone, to prepare for races. Citing the ongoing investigation, Hincapie declined to be interviewed by “60 Minutes,’’ which will air its piece on the Armstrong investigation tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Hincapie released a statement through his attorney: “I can confirm to you that I never spoke with ‘60 Minutes.’ I have no idea where they got their information. As I’ve said in the past, I continue to be disappointed that people are talking about the past in cycling instead of the future. As for the substance of anything in the ‘60 Minutes’ story, I cannot comment on anything relating to the ongoing investigation.’’
Asked to comment on the newest “60 Minutes’’ report, Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani said: “We have no way of knowing what happened in the grand jury and so can’t comment on these anonymously sourced reports.’’
The Hincapie and Hamilton revelations come a year after Floyd Landis, who had his 2006 Tour title stripped for using steroids, turned the focus of the feds’ cycling investigation onto Armstrong, claiming he and Armstrong had used drugs while on the US Postal team.
But while Hamilton and Landis have credibility problems that Armstrong has pointed out — both denied using drugs for years before changing their story and implicating Armstrong — there aren’t nearly as many issues with Hincapie.
Hincapie, 37, from New York, has no known positive tests. He was on the Postal team even before Armstrong and, once Armstrong joined it, they were frequent roommates on the road.
When Landis alleged that drug use was common on the US Postal team — and included Hincapie among those who doped — Hincapie responded by saying, “It bothers me, because I’ve been doing this for 17 years and never heard anything bad about me.’’
After CBS aired the Hamilton interview Thursday night, he gave his 2004 Olympic gold medal back to the US Anti-Doping Agency, which said it is working with the International and US Olympic committees on an investigation.
“60 Minutes’’ also released an excerpt from another Armstrong teammate, Frankie Andreu, who said he took banned substances because lesser riders he believed were doping were passing him during races.
“Things were just getting faster and faster and sprinters were getting over the big mountains and winning, you know, climbing stages,’’ Andreu said in the interview. “There’s 200 guys flying over these mountains and it’s just impossible to keep up. And it’s like, ‘What the hell’s going on here?’ ’’