New Book: Inside Armstrong's Doping Crew

Tyler Hamilton's "The Secret Race" is a 300-page indictment of Lance Armstrong
Staff Writer

Today, former Lance Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton released his much-anticipated book: The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France, Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs.

As the title suggests, this is not the heroic tale of how Hamilton rose through the ranks of professional cycling. It doesn’t dwell on how he made his mark in the 2003 Tour de France by finishing fourth in spite of a broken collarbone and teeth he had ground down to the nerves, celebrate his winning Olympic gold in the 2004 time trial, or glorify the fact that in 2008 he finally became the national road racing champion.  

No, the reality is much darker. One in which Hamilton reveals his past mistakes, including testing positive for doping at the 2004 Summer Olympics and Vuelta a España (and the resulting two-year suspension) and failing a 2009 drug test that took him out of immediate competition, stripped him of his Olympic gold and resulted in a career-ending eight-year suspension (which he’s still serving).

More importantly, though, the 300-some pages currently serve as the definitive history of doping in pro cycling following the mid-90s invention of EPO—a history that had, until now, remained heavily guarded and untold.

And most importantly (or at least most attention garnering), as the one-time teammate and confidant of Lance Armstrong, the book is meant to be the definitive account of (gasp!) Lance’s doping history.  

Here's a roundup of what the book says about Lance:

1. Lance came up wth an ingenious plan to have his gardener and odd-job man "Philippe" deliver vials of EPO (codenamed "Edgar") to US Postal team riders via motorcycle. From the book:

We were standing in Lance’s kitchen when he lined out the plan: he would pay Philippe to follow the Tour on his motorcycle, carrying a thermos full of EPO and a prepaid cell phone.

When we needed Edgar (EPO), Philippe would zip through the Tour’s traffic and make a drop-off.

"Simple. Quick—in and out. No risk. To be discreet, Philippe would be supplying only the climbers, the ones who needed it most and would provide the biggest bang for the buck: Lance, Kevin Livingston, and me. Los Amigos del Edgar.

"From that moment on, Philippe wasn’t Philippe the handyman anymore. Lance, Kevin, and I called him Motoman."

2. Armstrong tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse, but the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, the sport’s governing body) stepped in to cover it up. Shortly after, Lance made a $125,000 donation to the organization.

3. The drug tests, for all the hullabaloo surrounding them, don't mean all that much. From the book:

“The tests are easy to beat,” [Hamilton] said. “We’re way, way ahead of the tests. They’ve got their doctors, and we’ve got ours, and ours are better. Better paid, for sure. Besides, the UCI doesn’t want to catch certain guys anyway. Why would they? It’d cost them money.”

4. Like so many others who have crossed Armstrong, Hamilton was ostracized after thumping his team leader in the Stage 4 time trial of the 2000 Critérium du Dauphiné. Out of favor and out of friends on the US Postal squad, he eventually leaves for Team CSC.

Then, finally, you realize: This book is pretty much about Armstrong, after all. Which makes two books by Daniel Coyle—Hamilton's co-author, who conducted more than 200 hours of interviews with cyclists, doctors, wives, etc., while writing—about Lance Armstrong. The first was the 2005 bestselling biography Lance Armstrong's War: One Man's Battle Against Fate, Fame, Love, Death, Scandal, and a Few Other Rivals on the Road, which depicts Lance as a hero. Awkward.