The head of the U.S. Anti Doping Agency claims in a “60 Minutes Sports” segment to air Wednesday that a representative of banned cyclist Lance Armstrong once offered to make a donation estimated around $250,000 to the agency.
USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart told reporter Scott Pelley that an individual “representing Armstrong tried to give USADA a large sum of money sometime in 2004.”
Tygart called the gesture “totally inappropriate” in the “60 Minutes Sports” story that will air at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Showtime, and railed at the cyclist’s prior $100,000 gift to the International Cycling Union after a suspect sample was gathered from the rider.
“I was stunned,” Tygart says in the piece, according to a Showtime news release distributed to reporters, including one for The Times, on Tuesday. “It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”
Pelley, the reporter, told Tygart he learned the offer was $250,000, to which Tygart replied, “It was around that ballpark.”
Tygart did not immediately return messages left for him Tuesday morning by The Times.
Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, told The Times in a telephone conversation that, “At some point … I thought around the mid-2000s … someone was seeking some money for testing equipment and Armstrong offered to help. I don’t know for sure what happened. I only vaguely remember someone in the enforcement community needing some new testing equipment.
“There was some request to us, I thought. I can’t recall exactly, but that’s my recollection.”
Herman said Armstrong was not immediately available for comment.
USADA slapped Armstrong with a lifetime ban from competition, and stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles in October after unveiling a massive report detailing his alleged method of engaging in performance-enhancing drug use and doping to fuel his success.
Last week, the New York Times reported Armstrong, 41, was pursuing the idea of a full confession to USADA to restore his rights to compete in events such as triathlons and marathons.
In the “60 Minutes Sports” episode, Tygart is critical of the U.S. Justice Department for failing to prosecute Armstrong for his alleged doping program that included other U.S. Postal Service Cycling team members. Tygart said those around Armstrong operated like “the mafia” to cover up their alleged cheating.
“We have an obligation to clean athletes and the future of sport,” Tygart said. “This was a fight for the soul of sport.”