Lance Armstrong Offered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency a $250,000 'Donation'
Lance Armstrong tried to make a large donation to the anti-doping agency that caused the cyclist to be stripped of his seven Tour de France wins. The latest disclosure about Armstrong’s alleged cover-up of years of doping while collecting Tour titles and millions of dollars in endorsements comes from a CBS News investigation that will air on the debut installment of Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports Wednesday at 10 p.m.
The investigation, anchored by CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley, found that in 2004, when rumors of Armstrong's transgressions were afoot in the cycling world, someone representing Armstrong offered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency $250,000 on Armstrong's behalf. In an interview, USADA CEO Travis Tygart tells Pelley, “It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA. We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”
Armstrong also once gave the International Cycling Union, a regulatory body for his sport, a gift of $100,000. Tygart called that “totally inappropriate.”
Pelley had previously reported the bombshell story of longtime Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton, who offered an eyewitness account of Armstrong’s doping for a piece that aired on 60 Minutes in 2011. The story, for which Armstrong declined to comment, came as the Justice Department was investigating doping on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team. It also prompted strenuous denials and legal threats from Armstrong’s representatives.
“In the cold light of the morning, your story was either extraordinarily shoddy, to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit-and-run job,” Armstrong attorneys John Keker and Elliot Peters wrote in a letter to 60 Minutes executives at the time.
Armstrong also refused to comment for the new 60 Minutes Sports report.
That 60 Minutes executives decided to put the story on the inaugural installment of the Showtime edition instead of on the flagship broadcast speaks to the seriousness with which they are taking the spinoff. One of the show's anchors even questioned whether the piece shouldn't air on the Sunday program, which is watched by more than 10 million viewers a week: after his first interview with Tygart, recalls 60 Minutes executive editor Bill Owens, Pelley “walked into my office and said, ‘You really don’t want to put this on the Sunday show?’”
Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie