Tyler Hamilton says book about Lance Armstrong provides him relief
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New York • At first, Tyler Hamilton was impressed with the power Lance Armstrong wielded in cycling circles, his ability to call the head of the international cycling federation at any time — and call him by his first name.

As time passed, Hamilton saw how that power could work against him, too — for example, when he was summoned to the federation's offices and warned he was being monitored shortly after beating Armstrong in a race.

The 41-year-old, who rode with Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team from 1998 to 2001, details the years he spent lying about using performance-enhancing drugs and his relationship with Armstrong in his book, "The Secret Race, Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-Ups and Winning at All Costs."

He said coming clean about secrets he always swore he'd take to the grave gave him a sense of peace after years "of being so stressed out," even well after he retired.

"The truth will set you free, I'd always heard that term," Hamilton told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday. "Once in a while, when I was younger, I'd lie, then tell the truth and I'd feel better. But this was like a thousand-pound backpack off my shoulders. I was out of cycling, I was continuing to live my life in my post-cycling career. But I was miserable. There was something wrong."

The book, released Wednesday, is a culmination of a gut-wrenching 18 months for Hamilton, who provided details to a grand jury looking into the Armstrong case, then talked about them during an interview on "60 Minutes." All of his information was used in the case the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency brought against Armstrong.

Armstrong has long denied doping but last week chose not to fight drug charges by USADA, which last month erased 14 years of Armstrong's competitive results, including his seven Tour de France titles.

Wearing a light grey suit and long curly hair that brushed his neck, Hamilton looked and sounded much more relaxed than the halting, hesitant person who appeared on "60 Minutes" in May 2011.

"I don't think I was super-comfortable," he said. "I knew I wanted to do it but it was hard getting the words out."

Married last fall for the second time and now living in Montana, Hamilton said the words come much easier now that he's finished the book.

Hamilton's co-author, Daniel Coyle, said he agreed to write the book only if Hamilton gave him full access to his records and files and gave him the chance to independently verify all of Hamilton's recollections.

He said the day Hamilton was called into UCI was "just an interesting portrait of where we were in the sport at the time."

"It was a way to measure the sheer impact," Coyle said. "You could ask, 'Was Lance bigger than the sport?'"

Though many details of the alleged doping that Hamilton writes about were revealed on "60 Minutes," the book also paints a portrait of Armstrong as a power player inside his sport and an intimidating figure, who was not to be crossed.

Hamilton writes about a call he received from the International Cycling Union three hours after a victory over Armstrong, who was no longer his teammate, in Mont Ventoux, France, in the lead up to the 2004 Tour de France. "It felt like being called to the principal's office," Hamilton wrote.

During the 40-minute meeting, UCI officials told Hamilton they'd be watching him closely, but he wrote that the meeting, ultimately, was anticlimactic, "as if the UCI had called me in just to be able to say they called me in."

Hamilton writes that a few days later, Floyd Landis called him and told him the meeting had been engineered by Armstrong but when he confronted Armstrong about it, he denied it.

Landis is the cyclist whose 2006 Tour de France title was stripped. He denied doping for a long time, then admitted he did it and his testimony has also been used in the case against Armstrong.

Armstrong's agent, Bill Stapleton, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Hamilton said the meeting with UCI sent him an unmistakable message about Armstrong's power. He said he had heard the Texan talking on the phone from time to time in earlier years with former UCI president Hein Verbruggen — a man he and others in the peloton "called Mr. Verbruggen. Lance would call him up and speak to him on a first-name basis."

"I used to think, 'This is good, Lance gets things done,'" Hamilton said. "Then, when I was his competitor and our friendship started to dwindle, that's when I felt the wrath."

Egypt soccer fans attack federation headquarters

Soccer • About 300 angry fans stormed the headquarters of Egypt's Football Association in Cairo on Wednesday, protesting a decision to resume league games next month before bringing to justice perpetrators of a deadly stadium riot.

The Feb. 1 riot, in which 74 people were killed, erupted in the city of Port Said on the Mediterranean, where Al-Ahly, Egypt's most popular team, played the home team Al-Masry in a league game. Al-Masry won, 3-1.

Plane crash survivor gets 5th year at high school

Soccer • An Indiana high school basketball standout who survived a plane crash in Michigan last year that killed his father and stepmother was granted an extra year of high school eligibility Wednesday, meaning he can play two more seasons.

Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox said Austin Hatch was given another year of high school eligibility because he was not enrolled at Canterbury High School during the 2011-12 school year and received no academic credit. Cox said IHSAA bylaws allow it to grant an extra year of eligibility when a student misses a year of school because of illness or injury.

"I was happy to provide the young man the opportunity to stay in school and work toward his diploma and the opportunity to participate in athletics, should he have the ability to do so," Cox said.

The 6-foot-6 forward averaged 24 points and 9 rebounds as a sophomore. He committed to play at the University of Michigan shortly before the plane crash.

Cox said he received letters from Canterbury High and Hatch's grandfather requesting the extra year of eligibility. Karen Belcher, a school spokeswoman, said the family has asked the school not to comment on Hatch.

"I'm looking forward to being back out there," Hatch said in a text message to The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

Hatch didn't play basketball at Canterbury High last season while recovering from injuries sustained in the June 24, 2011, plane crash near the Charlevoix Municipal Airport in Michigan. Hatch also survived a plane crash eight years earlier that killed his mother.

Cox said it is rare for the IHSAA to grant an extra year of eligibility.

"I've been here 13 years now and I don't know it's happened since I've been here," he said. "I know we've done it before. I just can't cite when it's happened."

From wire reports