’60 Minutes’ is sorry Armstrong doesn’t believe its story


Lance Armstrong demanded an apology and retraction from CBS’ “60 Minutes” based on its report two Sunday’s ago, outing him as a cheater.

Attorney Eliot Peters, on behalf of Armstrong, sent a letter to CBS today accusing the newsmagazine show of shoddy journalism for a May 22 segment (linked here), after Armstrong’s camp criticized the network earlier for an “unpardonable zeal to smear” him.” They even set up a website (www.facts4lance.com) to deny the charges.

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CBS responded this afternoon in a statement issued by Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of “60 Minutes”:

“’60 Minutes’ stands by its story as truthful, accurate and fair. Lance Armstrong and his lawyers were given numerous opportunities to respond to every detail of our reporting for weeks prior to the broadcast and their written responses were fairly and accurately included in the story. Mr. Armstrong still has not addressed charges by teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie that he used performance enhancing drugs with them.

“1) The letter from Keker & Van Nest, Mr. Armstrong’s attorneys, claims that there was no “positive” or “suspicious” test from the 2001 Tour de Suisse:

“Mr. Armstrong’s teammate, Tyler Hamilton, told ’60 Minutes’ about the 2001 Tour de Suisse test. Included in his interview are the same facts that Hamilton reported under oath to U.S. federal officials under the penalty of perjury.

“’60 Minutes’ also reported that the Swiss Anti-Doping Laboratory Director, Dr. Martial Saugy, told U.S. officials and the FBI that that there was a “suspicious” test result from the Tour de Suisse in 2001. This was confirmed by a number of international officials who have linked the “suspicious” test to Armstrong. In recent days, Dr. Saugy finally confirmed to the media that there were “suspicious” test results.

“2) The letter from Armstrong’s attorneys claims that 60 MINUTES was inaccurate in reporting about a meeting between Dr. Saugy, Mr. Armstrong and former U.S. Postal Team Director, Johan Bruyneel:

“’60 Minutes’ reported there was a meeting between Dr. Saugy, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Bruyneel. Dr. Saugy refused our requests for an interview, but after the broadcast he confirmed that the meeting took place. Mr. Armstrong, after our broadcast, said he couldn’t recall that any such meeting took place.

“3) Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers claim our story was “shoddy,” while we found at least three inaccuracies in their letter:

“They claimed that ’60 Minutes’ reported the meeting took place at the Swiss lab; they claimed that ’60 Minutes’ reported the meeting took place in 2001; and they claimed that ’60 Minutes’ said it was a “secret” meeting. All three are wrong.

“David Howman, managing director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told ’60 Minutes’ that any meeting between Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Brunyeel and the Swiss lab director, Dr. Saugy, would be ‘highly unusual’ and ‘inappropriate.’”

In the segment, former teammate Tyler Hamilton said that Armstrong spoke of using endurance-boosting substance EPO and that cycling officials helped him hide a positive test result at the Swiss competition, which is a lead up to the Tour de France.

Martial Saugy, who heads up Switzerland’s anti-doping laboratory, denied last week that Armstrong tested positive for drugs in 2001.

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