Lance Armstrong, CBS News Engage in War of Words Over '60 Minutes' Expose
A war of words has erupted between Lance Armstrong and CBS News chairman Jeff Fager over a 60 Minutes piece that airs Sunday that alleges Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France seven times.
Armstrong pulled out of an interview with the news show to defend himself, telling The Daily Beast that the network "basically reneged" on promises it made to him and that "everyone would be frustrated" to be treated like that. He strongly denies the allegations, which are also the matter of a federal investigation.
Of the story producer, he says, "I would not call him a straight shooter… My version of events has never changed on this, and won’t."
But Fager, who is also the ep of 60 Minutes, tells The Daily Beast, "We have been so thorough and fair to Lance Armstrong. We have shared with them every single allegation in our story… This is a PR game. Our reporters have done a first-class job."
Armstrong has even gone as far as to have strategist Mark Fabiani, who worked with former President Bill Clinton during Whitewater and was an aide in Al Gore's presidential campaign, create a Web site to deny the allegations, www.facts4lance.com.
"We have every right to know which cyclists are going to be on camera, making allegations, and to tell the public how these new allegations completely contradict what these cyclists have said for years, how these cyclists are motivated now by the desire to get famous on 60 Minutes and maybe find publishers and make money, and how these cyclists have a long history of dissembling.” Fabiani says in a statement.
In the interview, which airs Sunday at 7 p.m., former teammate Tyler Hamilton says they both used "EPO…testosterone…a blood transfusion” while competing. Hamilton, who returned the gold medal he won in the individual time trial at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Friday, also testified in the federal investigation.
"I saw [EPO] in his refrigerator…I saw him inject it more than one time like we all did, like I did many, many times," he tells Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes. Teammate Frankie Andreu also says: "Training alone wasn’t doing it and I think that’s how…many of the other riders during that era felt, I mean, you kind of didn’t have a choice."
Two of Armstrong’s lawyers, Robert Luskin and Ted Herman, wrote a letter to Fager, according to the Daily Beast, that said 60 Minutes had engaged in "disgraceful journalism."
Luskin says some of the allegations are 15 years old and made by "people in the Lance-hater category who have made sworn statements at odds with what they’re telling 60 Minutes now.”
Replies Fager, "It’s unfortunate they won’t do an interview with us. If he never did anything, fine, come on 60 Minutes and tell us.”