No sooner had Lance Armstrong juiced his legal team last week by adding the San Francisco firm famed for helping ballplayers battle leaks in the BALCO drugs case, than Keker & Van Nest came out swinging, making a public demand that CBS apologize for doping allegations.
The 60 Minutes episode focused largely on hardhitting allegations by former U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team member Tyler Hamilton, who claimed that Armstrong used banned drugs to win at least three Tour de France races. He also claimed the champ personally administered drugs to other riders and helped Hamilton obtain doping products.
"In the cold light of morning your story was either extraordinarily shoddy, to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit-and-run job. In either case, a categorical on-air apology is required. ...What is particularly disturbing is that 60 Minutes had access to the true facts, could easily have verified them, and apparently chose instead to broadcast untruths and then layer innuendo on top of the falsehoods."
You can`t have a situation where you have athletes going and having one-on-one conversations with [the] lab just for the mere perception that that would be wrong. We can`t have a situation where athletes get preferential treatment, preferential information, or even meetings of, of that nature.
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."
Jeff Fager, chairman, CBS News, executive producer, 60 MINUTES