Lance Armstrong fires back at ’60 Minutes’
Lance Armstrong attacked the credibility of a report aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in the way he often attacked mountain climbs at the Tour de France — with blustery anger.
However, Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News, reacted differently than many of Armstrong’s cycling competitors did during the big race. Fager didn’t back off.
Armstrong’s attorney made public Wednesday a letter he’d sent to 60 Minutes calling the May 22 television report “extraordinarily shoddy to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit-and-run job,” and demanding an on-air apology.
CBS’ response was not at all apologetic.
“ ’60 Minutes’ stands by its story as truthful, accurate and fair,” began a statement by Fager. “Mr. Armstrong still has not addressed charges by teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie that he used performance-enhancing drugs with them.”
The Armstrong team seems particularly angered by Hamilton’s allegation that the International Cycling Union helped Armstrong cover up a positive doping test at the 2001 Tour de Suisse and CBS’ report that the UCI helped Armstrong arrange a meeting with the members of the Swiss testing lab.
Also Wednesday, the Associated Press, citing unnamed sources, reported that Martial Saugy, director of the Swiss lab, told federal authorities investigating doping and cycling that Armstrong’s test results from that 2001 race were “suspicious.”
Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani called the statements “unlawful leaks.”
“Who is leaking this information? Whoever is doing so is committing a crime and should be investigated for it,” Fabiani said.
CBS’ Fager was vigorous in his defense of the “60 Minutes” report and said in his statement that there were three “inaccuracies” in the letter sent by Armstrong’s lawyers.
Fager said, “They claimed ’60 Minutes’ reported the meeting [with Swiss lab authorities] took place at the Swiss lab; they claimed that ’60 Minutes’ reported the meeting took place in 2001; and they claimed that ’60 Minutes’ said it was a ‘secret’ meeting. All three were wrong.”
Fabiani responded by saying, “CBS apparently can’t face the truth. No positive test. No meeting. What they reported was false.”
A Los Angeles grand jury investigation into doping and cycling is ongoing and has lasted for more than a year.
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