Hamilton saw Armstrong inject EPO: Report

Updated: May 20, 2011, 09:11 AM IST

Los Angeles: Lance Armstrong`s former teammate Tyler Hamilton claims he saw the embattled seven-time Tour de France winner use EPO the first year he won the race in 1999, CBS News reported.

Hamilton told 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley that he witnessed Armstrong using EPO (erythropoietin), which is designed to increase endurance by boosting production of red blood cells.

"I saw it in his refrigerator," Hamilton told the American news programme in the interview to air Sunday. "I saw him inject it more than one time."

Cancer survivor Armstrong won the Tour de France for the first time in 1999 and captured every race from 1999-2005.

The programme decided to release excerpts from the show Thursday.

Armstrong has vehemently denied using performance-enhancing drugs during his controversial cycling career.

He reiterated that stance Thursday using his social networking page Twitter to get his message across.

"20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case," he said.

Hamilton, who admits using performance-enhancing drugs, retired from cycling in 2009 after a second positive drug test.

Hamilton says Armstrong also took a blood-booster before the 2000 and 2001 Tour de France races.

Armstrong "took what we all took... the majority of the peloton," Hamilton told 60 Minutes. "There was EPO... testosterone... a blood transfusion."

Armstrong is the subject of a probe by federal investigators who are trying to determine if the US Postal cycling team owes much of their success to a systematic doping programme.

The 39-year-old Armstrong retired in February after a string of disappointing results.

Armstrong initially retired from cycling after the 2005 Tour de France, but returned to competition in 2009.

Armstrong finished third in the 2009 Tour de France and most recently placed 67th in January`s Tour Down Under in Australia.

Armstrong retired three months before the America`s biggest cycling race the Tour of California which is being contested in southern California this week.

Hamilton is just the latest in a growing list of former teammates, ex-associates and co-workers to accuse Armstrong of cheating.

In 2010, former teammate Floyd Landis launched a series of damning allegations against Armstrong, with whom he rode in the US Postal team for several years, claiming Armstrong had used banned substances throughout his career.

A recent Sports Illustrated report cited another former member of Armstrong`s inner circle, New Zealander Stephen Swart, who told the magazine the Texan was the driving force behind some of the team members deciding to use the banned blood booster EPO in 1995.

"He was the instigator," Swart is quoted as saying in the report.

"It was his words that pushed us toward doing it."

Armstrong is widely credited with one of the greatest comebacks in the world of sport and his Livestrong foundation -- which raises money and awareness in the global fight against cancer -- is followed by millions.

Bureau Report