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Newz Forum: OLYMPICS: American's gold medal threatened by test

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posted on Sep, 21 2004 @ 07:06 PM
REGENSDORF, Switzerland -- Olympic time-trial champion Tyler Hamilton declared his innocence Tuesday after his pro cycling team said he's being investigated for possible blood doping and could be stripped of his gold medal.

The American cyclist said he would "fight this until I don't have a euro left in my pocket."

"I find it hard to believe and I hope it's not true," Lance Armstrong told on Tuesday night. Armstrong was Hamilton's teammate during his years with the U.S. Postal Service team (1996-2001). "He was with us for a long time and he's a good, honest, hard-working guy."

Tests at the Athens Olympics on Aug. 19 and at the Spanish Vuelta on Sept. 11 showed evidence of blood from another person, cycling's governing body said, according to a spokesman for Hamilton's team, Phonak. Follow-up tests were scheduled for later Tuesday.

Phonak spokesman Georges Luedinger said Hamilton denied having a transfusion -- which can boost athletes' performance by increasing the amount of oxygen-transporting red blood cells in their system.

"Tyler told us he did nothing," Luedinger said.

"I'm devastated to be here tonight," Hamilton said. "My family, team, friends are all devastated, and one thing I can guarantee you is I'm 100 percent innocent," the American told reporters at a news conference held by his Phonak cycling team.

"I've been accused of taking blood from another person. Anyone who knows me knows that is completely impossible. I can tell you what I did and did not put into my body. Cycling is very important to me, but not that important. If I ever had to do that [doping], I'd hang the bike on the rack."

If found guilty of a violation at the Olympics, Hamilton would lose his gold medal. Three athletes had gold medals revoked for doping during the Aug. 13-29 games.

"I am 100 percent innocent," Hamilton said.

A record 24 athletes -- none American -- from various sports were cited for drug-test violations at the Athens Olympics.



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