Tyler Hamilton: ‘Now the Truth About Doping Will Come Out’
“I believe the pendulum has swung the other way,” Tyler Hamilton says on a quiet afternoon at home in Montana as he considers the shift of momentum in the case of Lance Armstrong and the dirty truth of road cycling. “The Omertà - the code of silence - still exists but a lot of riders in the peloton, a lot of directors, know so much about Lance. They’ve not said a lot because they’re scared. But the truth is coming out now. I’ve heard that the stuff coming out in the next couple of weeks from other riders is going to make front page news in the sports sections.”
Hamilton pauses in the midst of a continuing storm. The recent publication of his book The Secret Race marked a gripping and grimy return to his past as an elite cyclist and former team-mate of Armstrong. In a story swollen with blood bags and discarded needles, with furtively constant use of EPO, Hamilton has placed Armstrong near the centre of his narrative.
A mordant humour sometimes frames the shooting up and downbeat cheating. In his team they named EPO after Edgar Allan Poe, a novelist of mystery whose final words on his deathbed were reputedly: “Lord, help my poor soul.” If they usually called their performance-enhancing drug of choice “Edgar”, being on first-name terms with EPO, Hamilton claims to have also asked Armstrong a simple question about “Poe”. They were in Armstrong’s villa in Nice, in the spring of 1999, preparing for the Tour de France - and the first of his seven wins.
“Hey dude, you got any Poe I can borrow?” Hamilton supposedly asked Armstrong. “Lance pointed casually to the fridge,” Hamilton writes. “I opened it and there, on the door, next to a carton of milk was a carton of EPO, each stoppered vial standing upright, little soldiers in their cardboard cells. I was surprised that Lance would be so cavalier.” Unlike Hamilton and other paranoid members of the peloton, “Lance acted like he was invulnerable.”