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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The World According to Lance Armstrong
Aired October 27, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Tonight, for the first time in the U.S., disgraced cycling legend Lance Armstrong defends himself at length on camera and under oath.
First seen on Australian network ABC, this investigation by reporter Quinton McDermott features Armstrong in his only on-camera deposition ever, passionately denying the repeated use of performance enhancing drugs.
Friends, former teammates and experts provide damning evidence against Armstrong despite his vigorous denials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lance Armstrong salutes the crowd, seven times a winner of the Tour de France.
QUINTON MCDERMOTT, ABC CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): A moment of triumph, now turned epic disgrace. The United States Anti-Doping Agency or USADA says that Lance Armstrong was a drug cheat, part of an organized conspiracy by the U.S. Postal Service team to dupe the public and fool the authorities.
And now cycling's governing body, the UCI, has stripped him of the seven wins in the Tour de France that made him one of modern sport's most celebrated icons.
BETSY ANDREU, WIFE OF FRANKIE ANDREU: The totality of the evidence is overwhelming. You're looking at the Bernie Madoff of sport. This is the biggest fraud in the history of sport. The biggest. He couldn't have done it alone.
PHIL LIGGETT, CYCLING COMMENTATOR: When money is involved -- big money -- then, of course, the cheats come as well.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Lance Armstrong entered cycling as a brash young competitor, full of enthusiasm but limited in his all-around ability. His mentor then was the Australian racer Phil Anderson.
MCDERMOTT: Did he strike you in those days as a cyclist who could eventually win the Tour de France?
PHIL ANDERSON, AUSTRALIAN RACER: For me, no. To be a good tour rider you have to be a good time trialist and you have to be a good mountain climber, and he wasn't particularly strong in those two areas. To me, he didn't have what it took in those early years. MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Lance Armstrong was then with the American Motorola team. So, too, was New Zealander Steven Swart.
Stephen Swart says in 1995 when Phil Anderson had left the team, the riders complained that their European opponents were doping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you talk with Lance Armstrong about the need to start using EPO to be competitive?
STEPHEN SWART, FORMER PRO CYCLIST: We had a discussion about it, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did Mr. Armstrong say?
SWART: He did say, you know, if we're going to the tour, we've got to -- we've got to perform. We need the results.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does -- what did that mean?
SWART: I think he just said -- you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. You know? If we were going to -- if we were going to be competitive, there was only one road to take.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there a discussion about doping in any way with Mr. Swart?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, PRO CYCLIST: The only aspect that is true is that he was on the team. Beyond that, not true.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): The doping allegations arose in a case brought by Lance Armstrong against an insurer based in Dallas, Texas, who provided huge bonuses paid to Armstrong for winning the Tour de France in successive years.
JEFFREY TILLOTSON, ATTORNEY: These are the checks making the first two payments under the contract. These checks represent when he won on the 4th and the 5th, making those payments for $1.5 million and then $3 million.
Obviously no one had ever won six before.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Attorney Jeff Tillotson represented the insurer, who refused to pay a further $5 million when Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France in 2004.
TILLOTSON: Obviously no one would want to guarantee a payment to an event that was fixed or if someone was cheating, because that's a risk no one would take.
MCDERMOTT: Well, was it fixed?
TILLOTSON: Well, my client and we think now the evidence clearly shows that Lance Armstrong was, in fact, using performance enhancing drugs for both the fourth, fifth, and sixth Tour de France races, which are the ones my clients had risk on.
We also think the evidence we developed showed that he had been using performance enhancing drugs long before we ever got involved, and even dating back to the beginning of his career. So in my client's mind, yes, those races were fixed.
Mr. Armstrong, my name is Jeff Tillotson. I represent --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Jeff Tillotson has done something USADA has been unable to do.
TILLOTSON (voice-over): Whether it's a blessing or curse, I'm the only lawyer to have actually taken sworn testimony from Lance Armstrong and to have had him to deny under oath, with the penalty of perjury, that he used performance enhancing drugs.
You understand that although we're in the conference room of your lawyers, you are giving testimony as if you are in a court of law?
Do you understand that?
TILLOTSON: And that penalties of perjury attach to this deposition just like they would to a court of law proceeding?
ARMSTRONG: Of course.
TILLOTSON: Did you, in fact --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Tonight, for the first time in the U.S., sworn depositions from Lance Armstrong and other key witnesses are being broadcast. This evidence laid the foundation for later investigations, including USADA's.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Armstrong has the advantage here. He's on the right side of these riders.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Lance Armstrong's dream was to win the Tour de France.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Armstrong goes on the left of the picture. Lance Armstrong, his first Tour de France, they all said he was too young! But he gets clear of the line! Lance Armstrong --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): In his first tour, well, he won a stage. But three years later it looked like his dream had died.
In this film for his cancer charity, Livestrong, Armstrong described what happened.
ARMSTRONG: I had excruciating headaches, blurry vision, coughing up of blood. I had been debating on whether or not I should go to the doctor for a long time but finally went. "He said, Lance, I hate to tell you this, but you have advanced testicular cancer."
B. ANDREU: Look how young we all looked. MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Cycling legend Lance Armstrong had just been diagnosed with cancer. His closest friends gathered around. Among them, Betsy Andreu and her fiance, Frankie, who was close to Armstrong and rode with him on his team.
B. ANDREU: Frankie, Lance.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Armstrong was due to consult with his doctors. What happened next shocked Betsy Andreu to the core.
B. ANDREU: When the doctors came, I suggested we leave to give him his privacy. And he said, that's OK, you can stay. So we stayed, the doctor started asking Lance a couple of banal questions, and then, boom, have you ever used performance enhancing drugs?
Lance, hanging onto his IV, rattled off EPO, testosterone, cortisone, growth hormone and steroid. My eyes popped out of my head and Frankie said, "I think we should leave the room," and we left the room. And Frankie and I had just been engaged six weeks previously. And I said, that's how he got his cancer. If you are doing that, I am not marrying you.
We can stay, we can stay.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Years later, Betsy and Frankie Andreu recalled under oath what had happened.
B. ANDREU: The doctor asked him a couple of questions and then came the question, have you ever taken any performance enhancing drugs? And Lance said, yes; the doctor said, what were they? And he said, EPO, growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it Mr. Armstrong said in response to the doctor asking him about use of performance enhancing drugs?
FRANKIE ANDREU, PRO CYCLIST: I don't know how the doctor phrased the question but Lance's response was that he had taken EPO and testosterone and growth hormone and cortisone.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Also in the hospital that day was Stephanie McIlvain, who worked as a rep for one of Lance Armstrong's main sponsors, Oakley.
B. ANDREU: After we were deposed, the day after, Stephanie called, sobbing. Stephanie told me that her husband was called into one of the higher-ups of the company, where he is vice president of global marketing for Oakley, one of Lance's sponsors.
And Stephanie was told, if you make the company look bad, you're going to lose your job. And so we said, that's it, she's going to lie. She's going to lie. She's not going to say it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you ever in a hospital room or other part of the hospital with Mr. Armstrong where he said anything about performance enhancing drugs?
STEPHANIE MCILVAIN, OAKLEY REP: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any recollection of any doctor in your presence asking Mr. Armstrong if he used in the past any performance enhancing drugs or substances?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Stephanie McIlvain gave her sworn deposition at Oakley's headquarters in California.
The year before, out of the blue, she'd received a phone call from an American cycling legend.
GREG LEMOND, PRO CYCLIST: Stephanie?
LEMOND: This is Greg LeMond calling.
MCILVAIN: Greg le who?
LEMOND: Greg LeMond.
MCILVAIN: Hi, Greg, how are you?
LEMOND: How are you doing?
MCILVAIN: I'm doing well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greg LeMond in the leader's yellow jersey, 1:13 --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Greg LeMond was a three-time winner of the Tour de France who insisted he never took drugs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greg LeMond has unsettled --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): LeMond had fallen out with Lance Armstrong, who he suspected of doping. And in 2004, he and Stephanie McIlvain spoke frankly about what occurred in the hospital.
LEMOND: I heard from a source outside of the group here of what happened at the hospital, and Betsy and I have talked a little bit, but -- and I -- and I'm not asking you to do anything you would never want to do, but, you know, if I did get down to where it was a, you know, lawsuit, would you be willing to testify or -- ?
MCILVAIN: If I was subpoenaed, I would.
MCILVAIN: Because I'm not going to lie. You know, I was in that room. I heard it. MCDERMOTT (voice-over): What Stephanie McIlvain didn't know was that Greg LeMond was secretly recording that conversation.
TILLOTSON: Lance Armstrong's lawyers immediately backed off this issue and we presented to the panel that Stephanie McIlvain had told two different stories about what happened in the Indiana University Hospital room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you heard her testimony regarding --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): In her last public statement, McIlvain insisted that she had no knowledge of Lance Armstrong ever using performance enhancing drugs.
And Armstrong and his doctors also maintained that he was never asked about them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you deny the statements that Ms. Andreu attributed to you in the Indiana University Hospital?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, 100 percent. Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any medical person ask you while you were at the Indiana University Hospital whether you had ever used any sort of performance enhancing drugs or substances?
ARMSTRONG: Nope, absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you offer or can you help explain to me why Ms. Andreu would make that story up?
ARMSTRONG: Well, she said in her deposition she hates me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your testimony that Mr. Andreu was also lying when he said that he heard you say those things regarding your prior use?
ARMSTRONG: One hundred percent. I feel for him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean by that?
ARMSTRONG: Well, I think he's trying to back up his old lady.
MCDERMOTT: How has Lance Armstrong treated you following this incident?
B. ANDREU: Oh, I mean, what he's -- how he has described me to people he presumed would never meet me is pretty amazing. Think of just any derogatory adjective, and, you know, basically I'm nuts, just crazy. I'm really jealous, I'm hateful, I'm vindictive, I'm bitter. And so this has been a quest to clear my name because I never, ever, ever lied about anything. Ever.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Two days after the Andreus gave their sworn evidence, Indiana University announced an endowment of $1.5 million for a Chair in Oncology to honor the doctor whose team treated Armstrong for cancer. The endowment was funded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
ARMSTRONG: I just want to be clear, because these are very separate issues. I'm endowing, funding a chair for somebody who saved my life.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Throughout the 1990s, cyclists and their teams worked hard to cover up the increasing use of performance enhancing drugs. Their job was made easier by the fact that the drug of choice in the pelleton at the time, the blood booster EPO, was undetectable. So popular was EPO that the pelleton invented a term for riders who didn't use it.
TYLER HAMILTON, PRO CYCLIST: The translation was "riding on bread and water," and the Italian term is pan y agua. So I was, yes, I guess for the first few months of the '97 season I was riding on pan y agua, bread and water.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Tyler Hamilton's revelations about drug taking in cycling have created headlines around the world. Like many top racers, Tyler Hamilton started out as a drug-free rider. But when he joined the U.S. Postal Service team, he saw veteran riders getting preferential treatment; they would be given white lunch bags between races. He wanted his lunch bag, too.
HAMILTON: The doctor at U.S. Postal Service said that, you know, I had enormous potential. So basically -- eventually when I was invited to -- when I was given my first white lunch bag, you know, it was a sign to me that they believed in me, they believed in my potential and they believed in my long-term talent.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): The lunch bags contained the banned drug EPO, designed to raise a cyclist's hematocrit level.
HAMILTON: Your hematocrit is the percentage of red blood cells in your body. Your red blood cells carry oxygen to your muscles. So basically the higher your red blood cell percentage, the better your muscles are going to operate under stress. So in laymen's terms, the more red blood cells you have, the faster you're going to ride a bike, you know.
MCDERMOTT: So what was the doctor's solution to raising those levels?
HAMILTON: Yes. A couple months before, maybe a month and a half before my first Tour de France, it was EPO.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Under UCI rules at the time, riders were allowed a hematocrit level of 50 percent but no higher. Tyler Hamilton says doctors would tell riders what their glow time was with different drugs. HAMILTON: You were given the limits on, you know, what product would -- how long you would glow for, how long you would test positive for. So as long as you played by what the team doctors told you, you know, it was more or less pretty -- at the time it was pretty easy to pass these tests. You know, I passed a couple hundred doping controls myself, you know.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): When Lance Armstrong joined the U.S. Postal Service team in 1998, following his recovery from cancer, he shared a room with Tyler Hamilton.
MCDERMOTT: Did you both talk about drugs together?
HAMILTON: We did. We did. You know, it didn't -- it didn't -- it wasn't -- every conversation wasn't about drugs, but, yes, we talked about it, you know, behind closed doors, absolutely. Absolutely. In '98 I was pretty green, so I asked a lot of questions, and, you know, I learned a lot.
MCDERMOTT: So he was quite open with you.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Tyler Hamilton says Lance Armstrong was surprisingly relaxed about where he kept his EPO.
HAMILTON: When I was at his house in Nice, France, I asked him for some, and he kindly said, yes, no problem. And it was just on the inside door of his refrigerator, just in the box that it came in. You know, I was surprised that it was right there, kind of out in the open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence against individual --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: French police began investigations into Festina after banned drugs, including steroids, were found in one of the team cars on July 8th. Festina's doctor, Eric Rijkaert, was questioned and later charged under France's anti-drugs act.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): As the 1998 Tour de France got under way, the lid was blown off systematic doping in the pelleton.
DICK POUND, FORMER PRESIDENT, WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: It was pretty clear that there was a major problem. The French police are arresting team members or followers with industrial quantities of doping substances and equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the staff house (ph) now is Lance Armstrong --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): The following year, the Tour de France was billed as the Tour of Renewal. Teams were terrified of being raided, but Lance Armstrong came prepared with a delivery man in tow called Motoman.
HAMILTON: Motoman was this gardener/handyman for Lance Armstrong. And the team I was on didn't carry performance enhancing drugs, so to get EPO for the Tour de France we came up with the plan. And the plan had Motoman involved, where he would follow the race, always stay within probably a half-hour drive of our -- motorcycle drive -- from our hotel.
He basically had the container filled with EPO and he would basically just wait for a phone call on a secret phone. And when he had to do a delivery, he'd do a delivery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Armstrong coming up now. Now can he get off to a great start in the Tour de France? He is aiming at 8:09. He's certainly ahead at this (inaudible) and at this point. My goodness me, 8:02.51, Lance Armstrong with that performance, Paul, I think may have done enough.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): This is where the legend began. On the very first day of his comeback Tour de France, Lance Armstrong won the prologue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lance Armstrong has delivered a great blow.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Three weeks later, less than three years after being diagnosed with cancer, he won his first Tour de France. It would be the first of seven.
LIGGETT: He came back again and again and again, winning tour after tour, and he did it seven times. And of course it's a record. Nobody's ever done it, and it's -- for many people it was unacceptable. It was impossible to do that without taking drugs.
MCDERMOTT: Well, what do you think?
LIGGETT: I -- look, I admit I've been very proud to commentate (sic) on Armstrong over these -- over these years, because I've seen a man, and I've sees how he's battled the elements and I've seen how he's come forward. And I'm very sad.
What do I think? Everybody else did it, so I find it very difficult not to think that Lance did it.
QUINTON MCDERMOTT, ABC CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Lance Armstrong was charging to victory in the Tour de France, cycling's biggest race. But the evidence suggests he was doping big-time. Tyler Hamilton says that after finishing a stage, he, Armstrong, and their teammate Kevin Livingston would inject themselves with EPO in the team's camper just meters from the excited fans outside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, baby!
TYLER HAMILTON, PRO CYCLIST: That was nerve-wracking because you're right there in the heart of the Tour de France, thousands and thousands of people around you -- hovering around your -- the team camper, and we had this performance enhancing drug. So I remember just trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible because there was one for Lance, one for Kevin and one for myself. You quickly just stuck it in, got rid of it and then it was quickly hidden away, typically in like a Coke can, all three vials would go into a Coke can. We'd crush it, give it to a team doctor to dispose.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): But it didn't go all to plan. Lance Armstrong was tested for drugs during the tour, and one of his samples revealed a significant level of a banned corticosteroid.
Emma O'Reilly was a soigneur on the team, whose duties included given Armstrong a massage after his rides. During one of these massages, she says, an urgent discussion took place between Armstrong and the team's management.
EMMA O'REILLY, CYCLING SOIGNEUR: The conversation that was occurring really was, what are we going to do, here's the problem. We need a solution. And how do we act upon the solution? And are we happy with the solution?
So it was -- the problem was Lance had tested high in the cortisone; the solution was a potential prescription. What was the prescription for? Why was he taking it? Are we all happy with that? Yes, we're happy with that. All right, let's go down and speak to Luis, who was the team doctor, and get him to write the prescription.
Dr. Luis del Moral has now been issued with a lifetime sporting ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USADA. Emma O'Reilly says the doctor issued a prescription to Armstrong for a cortisone cream for saddle sores and back-dated it.
MCDERMOTT: Had he complained to you about saddle sores?
O'REILLY: No, no. No. No, it wasn't about saddle sores. The whole thing was just a back-dated prescription to help kind of explain his elevated cortisone level in the test at the prologue.
MCDERMOTT: Of course, if he -- if he had been prescribed this cream, then it should have been listed as a -- on the therapeutic exemption.
O'REILLY: Absolutely, yes, yes. And it wasn't, because he wasn't taking the cream, you know. It was just purely back-dated to cover up that cortisone elevation, yes. The back-dated prescription was rigged to suit the test.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): When she was subpoenaed to give sworn evidence, Emma O'Reilly insisted that her memory was clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any doubt in your mind as to what happened and what you heard?
O'REILLY: None whatsoever at all. I can still, to this day, picture the whole scene vividly.
JEFFREY TILLOTSON, ATTORNEY: She was labeled a traitor by Lance Armstrong. She was told she'd never work in the business again by the Armstrong group. We found her to be extremely credible on the issues in which -- and the things she said she had seen and done.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Lance Armstrong escaped being sanctioned for having a banned corticosteroid in his system. In 2000, a test was introduced for EPO. Tyler Hamilton says that he and Lance Armstrong continued to dope, using microdoses of EPO which would pass through the body more rapidly, and an undetectable type of doping, blood transfusions.
Under this procedure, blood would be taken from a cyclist, stored in a refrigerator, and then reinfused at a later date, boosting the cyclist's red blood cells.
HAMILTON: It seemed kind of -- sort of caveman-like, you know, taking out your own blood, not seeing it for three or four weeks, then getting it back in, reinfusing it back in.
MCDERMOTT: Who was organizing all of that?
HAMILTON: Lance and Johan Bruyneel and the doctor, del Moral, Dr. Del Moral.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Johan Bruyneel, once director of the U.S. Postal Service team, has said he will fight the charges at an arbitration hearing with USADA later this year.
Neither Bruyneel nor Dr. Luis del Moral have ever been charged with a crime. Both deny the allegations, though Tyler Hamilton tells a very different story. He says after stage 11 of the 2000 Tour de France, he, Lance Armstrong and Kevin Livingston had their blood reinfused. Everything was handled by the team's management.
HAMILTON: We were in this small hotel. It was pretty wild. I arrived in my room, and there was, you know, the staff had sort of prepared everything, the doctors, and there was a blood bag up -- taped up on the wall, hanging from the wall, and a red tube coming down -- a red -- a tube filled with blood coming down.
And basically, you know, injected me here. I have pretty small veins, so the one place that always worked was right there. And it's -- you can see the scars today.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Tyler Hamilton says the three riders lay on beds in adjoining rooms with an open door between them.
MCDERMOTT: Could you see Lance Armstrong?
HAMILTON: Yes. Yes. You know, that's a question that's been asked a lot. Yes, I saw him. I saw his bag of blood and saw it in his arm, yes.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): They were taking a huge gamble.
HAMILTON: I'm just -- I'm glad we didn't get caught. You know, I would have been -- we all would have been -- serious stuff. And like now looking back, oh, my God, what was I doing? But you're so deep into it, you know, you don't even have time to take a half-step back and look at the big picture.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): In 2005, Lance Armstrong denied under oath ever having received a blood transfusion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've never used your own blood for doping purposes, for example?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, PRO CYCLIST: That would be banned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm not trying to agitate you. I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK? All right.
DR. MICHAEL ASHENDEN, SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY AGAINST BLOOD DOPING: The whole point of blood doping is to increase the number of red cells in your circulation. The blood transfusions have the advantage of not being detectable, even today. We don't have a foolproof method of establishing when an athlete has reinfused their own blood.
MCDERMOTT: So does that mean that athletes now and cyclists now are transfusing their own blood back into themselves?
ASHENDEN: There's no doubt. There's no doubt that's happening.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): In 2005, Lance Armstrong won an unprecedented seventh straight victory in the Tour de France, then left the stage to huge acclaim. But a month later, the EPO which Motoman had delivered during his first tour delivery came back to haunt him.
In a sensational scoop in the French newspaper L'Equipe, Lance Armstrong was accused of lying about performance enhancing drugs.
DAMIEN RESSIOT, JOURNALIST: "Le Monsonge Armstrong," in French, it means that, yes, is a liar, but all history is a liar. All history. Yes, a double sense in French.
MCDERMOTT: What was the reaction?
Damien Ressiot, an investigative journalist for L'Equipe, had written a story claiming the newspaper had proof that Lance Armstrong took EPO during the 1999 Tour de France.
RESSIOT (from captions): His victory, and I am very clear on this, was "dirty." By this, I mean that here at L'Equipe, we established that he won the 1999 Tour de France using EPO. That's indisputable . It's been scientifically proven.
He didn't want to discuss it when I wrote the story and when I published my investigation, there was no legal action. We know that Mr. Armstrong always has 20 lawyers around him by they didn't try to sue L'Equipe or me. The only thing he said was, "It's not true. I never took EPO." That's all. But we know and it's been demonstrated that he took EPO in 1999.
MCDERMOTT: Lance Armstrong swears he has never taken performance enhancing drugs and that in over 500 tests throughout his career he never once tested positive. But the stronger scientific evidence that he was doping comes from this highly specialized French laboratory.
Testers here found clear evidence of EPO in samples which were later identified as Lance Armstrong's.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): During the '99 tour which Armstrong won, urine samples from the riders were sent to this lab on the outskirts of Paris to be tested.
MCDERMOTT: So what is this room?
FRANCOISE LASNE, NATIONAL ANTI-DOPING AGENCY, FRANCE: This room is the EPO room. In this room we perform the anti-doping analysis for review.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): At the time, a test for EPO was still not ready.
LASNE: -- for the EPO test.
The test for detection of EPO was developed in this laboratory. So I personally performed the development of this test. And it took a very long time; it took about six years to develop this test, and it was ready in 2000.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Four years later, as part of the lab's research but not as part of a formal testing process, the 1999 samples were reexamined, and some were found to contain the banned drug.
Six samples given by Lance Armstrong were found to contain EPO.
MCDERMOTT: Why was it only revealed years later that these samples belonged to Lance Armstrong?
ASHENDEN: It was only a coincidence of events. A journalist requested from the cycling governing body, the UCI, to have access to some of Lance Armstrong's doping control forms.
The UCI voluntarily gave all of Armstrong's forms from that race to the journalist, who then cross-matched the LED numbers that were on those forms with the samples that had been analyzed quite separately by the laboratory, and he was the one that matched the Led numbers to the samples that contained EPO.
The lines here are a delineation --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Mike Ashenden is a former independent expert for the UCI, who helped develop a blood test for EPO for the Sydney Olympics. MCDERMOTT: Which of these samples belongs to Lance Armstrong?
ASHENDEN: Well, if we go to the doping control form, we see 160297, and that corresponds with this sample here, 160297. And we see that for that sample there was 100 percent basic isoforms, which tells us that the system was flooded with synthetic EPO when that sample was provided.
MCDERMOTT: So and at what stage in the tour was that taken?
ASHENDEN: That was the prologue; that was the first day of the '99 tour.
MCDERMOTT: Is there any doubt in your mind that the positive results for EPO were scientifically correct?
LASNE: Yes, they are scientifically correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know whether or not the samples --
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): When questioned about this under oath, Lance Armstrong put forward an alternative explanation.
ARMSTRONG: I can only believe that they either are not mine or have been manipulated because, when I pissed in the bottle, as I told you earlier, having never taken performance enhancing drugs, when I pissed in the bottle there was not EPO in that piss or urine.
MCDERMOTT: Lance Armstrong, when he criticized those results, alleged that maybe those samples had been spiked or manipulated. Is there any truth in that?
LASNE: No. It's no sense because it -- analyses were performed for our research.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): In 2005, an investigation by the French newspaper L'Equipe revealed that six of Lance Armstrong's blood samples from the 1999 Tour de France contained the banned substance EPO. But cycling's governing body, the UCI, took no action against Armstrong.
ASHENDEN: Rather than open their doors and say, let's try and understand what's going on here inside of our sport, they instead, as far as I could work out, tried to shut the case down.
MCDERMOTT: Should the UCI have acted on those results?
DICK POUND, FORMER PRESIDENT, WORLD ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: In my view? Of course they should have. They had the power to say, all right, you doped, you're out. MCDERMOTT (voice-over): On one other occasion, the UCI chose not to act.
In 2001, Tyler Hamilton alleges Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO.
HAMILTON: Luckily, we had the right people on our side.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): The test occurred during that year's Tour of Switzerland. Tyler Hamilton says Lance Armstrong's adviser on doping, the Italian Dr. Michele Ferrari, had told Armstrong to take microdoses of EPO to ensure he didn't test positive. USADA says that, in all, Lance Armstrong paid Dr. Ferrari more than $1 million for his doping advice.
But on this occasion, it went wrong.
HAMILTON: He told me he had a positive test for EPO, which was very surprising, because it seemed like it was foolproof.
ASHENDEN: My understanding is that a sample had been provided and analyzed by the laboratory and they had found that there was evidence of synthetic EPO in that sample.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): While Ferrari denies all allegations against him, he has been banned for life by USADA. The UCI says Tyler Hamilton's claims about the 2001 test result are completely unfounded.
But less than a year after the Tour of Switzerland, Lance Armstrong wrote a personal check to the UCI for $25,000 and he pledged a further $100,000 in 2005.
In his sworn evidence, Armstrong's recollection of his donations was vague.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have made a contribution or donation to the UCI, have you not?
ARMSTRONG: I have, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know when that was made?
ARMSTRONG: Some years ago. I don't recall exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2000, for example?
ARMSTRONG: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it -- was there anything that occasioned that, that you recall? Like I'm doing it because of X or Y or Z?
ARMSTRONG: I'm doing it to fund the fight against doping.
ASHENDEN: For an athlete to be paying money to the people who police him is -- it's unconscionable. POUND: To have somebody who's at the center of the controversy make this kind of a donation to the organization that has the power to sanction him, it sets up an impossible conflict of interest.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Lance Armstrong is not alone among drug cheats. Since 1998, more than a third of the top 10 finishers in the Tour de France have been linked to doping.
But the will of the UCI to shut down the doping networks has been doubted by many.
Joerg Jaksche is a former cyclist who questions the UCI's commitment to stamp out systematic doping in the pelleton's top teams. From his earliest days as a professional, he was told how the system works.
JOERG JAKSCHE, FORMER PRO CYCLIST: Everyone on our team does it, the team pays for it. And, yes, so I was confronted with the situation, that there is organized doping in cycling.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Joerg Jaksche and Tyler Hamilton's careers hit the skids when, in 2006, Spanish police conducted a raid on a doctor in Madrid and found blood bags, drugs and paperwork implicating them and other cyclists.
Joerg Jaksche had raced with several different teams. But when he met the UCI to tell them everything he knew, he says they failed to act on his detailed revelations.
JAKSCHE : As far as I know, no one of my team managers, of my team doctors got questioned by the UCI. There was no written accusation, nothing. It's like having a deceased body, a dead body in your basement. It stinks a little bit after a while and it's going to come up more and more and more.
And one day, the police is going to find it and the information is there. The UCI did very little or nothing about it. So it's their problem if the basement stinks.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Just recently, the UCI finally took action, stripping Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. Now more than ever, it's not about the bike, it's about the truth.
HAMILTON: I was kicking and screaming when I had to tell the truth. But little did I know it was the best thing I ever could have done.
B. ANDREU: What Lance never had was the truth, which is more powerful than the corrupt athlete.
ARMSTRONG: How could it have taken place?
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Whether Lance Armstrong will ever confess to doping remains to be seen. In 2005, his denials were passionate.
ARMSTRONG: How many times do I have to say it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just trying to make sure your testimony is clear.
ARMSTRONG: Well, if it can't be any clearer than I've never taken drugs, then incidents like that could have never happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
ARMSTRONG: How clear is that?
TILLOTSON: It was really hard for us to tell if Lance actually believed what he was telling and had convinced himself that he hadn't done these things or that he was just a very persuasive liar.
MCDERMOTT (voice-over): Attorney Jeff Tillotson and the insurer are demanding the return of the bonus money paid to Armstrong, even threatening further legal action.
Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his titles, high-profile sponsorships, much of his prize money and leadership role at Livestrong. But he says he's moving on and will not be distracted from his work with Livestrong and the fight to beat cancer. The stakes could hardly be higher.
LIGGETT: I know the power of this man when he walks into the room, and I know the hope he gives cancer survivors. I mean, I don't know if he is proved to be -- to have taken drugs, how he can face any of these people, because, I mean, he can call up Barack Obama, he has his cell phone number on his cell phone.
And how can you call up these people knowing that you've taken drugs all your life to cheat to seven tours? It's a problem I wouldn't want.
ARMSTRONG: If you have a doping offense or you test positive, it goes without saying that you're fired from all of your contracts, not just the team. But there's numerous contracts that I have that would all go away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sponsorship agreements, for example?
ARMSTRONG: All of them. And the faith of all the cancer survivors (inaudible) -- everything I do off the bike would go away, too. And don't think for a second I don't understand that.
It's not about money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. All of that would be erased. So I don't need it to say in a contract, you're fired if you test positive. That's not as important as losing the support of hundreds of millions of people.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: In a written statement, Armstrong's lawyers assert that testimony to USADA from key witnesses contradicts what they had previously testified to under oath and that witnesses testified only after they knew they wouldn't be subject to cross- examination. USADA responds by saying that Armstrong is just trying to attempt to continue to cover up but that the evidence has revealed the truth about his doping. To read the USADA report and Armstrong's full statement, go to CNN.com.