FBI wants tape of Hamilton-Armstrong meeting in Aspen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
LOS ANGELES – The FBI has contacted an Aspen restaurant to get surveillance tapes of a conversation between seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and former teammate Tyler Hamilton over the weekend.
Armstrong and Hamilton ran into each other at a restaurant in Aspen on Saturday night, a few weeks after Hamilton went on “60 Minutes” and accused Armstrong of doping and encouraging his teammates to use performance-enhancing drugs as well. Armstrong owns a home in the Aspen area.
Hamilton attorney Chris Manderson said his client was rattled by some of Armstrong’s comments. “It was aggressive and intimidating and we thought it should be reported to federal investigators,” Manderson told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Armstrong and one of his lawyers said the conversation was uneventful.
Jodi Larner, co-owner of the restaurant called Cache Cache, said the FBI was coming Wednesday to take the restaurant’s surveillance tapes. However, the tapes only capture the kitchen area and not the front of the restaurant where the incident occurred.
“I wish it was on surveillance to show it was a non-event,” said Larner, a friend of Armstrong’s.
Federal officials are now in their second year of investigating doping in cycling. Armstrong is a target of their work and a Los Angeles-based grand jury is hearing evidence that could lead to charges of fraud, conspiracy and drug trafficking against the cyclist and others on his Tour-winning teams.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, and Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles office, both declined comment.
Manderson said it was well known that Hamilton would be in Aspen; he believes Armstrong sought his fellow cyclist out for a confrontation.
“I don’t think it was a coincidence,” he said.
Armstrong told Outside Magazine the incident was “certainly awkward for both of us” and “truly uneventful.”
Larner said she didn’t hear the conversation that lasted about five minutes but saw Hamilton try to hug Armstrong, who brushed him away.
“They didn’t create a scene whatsoever,” Larner said. “Two guys talking in a bar. If that’s an incident, wow.”
Manderson said the two men hadn’t spoken to one another in years, including recent weeks after Hamilton, an admitted drug-user, appeared on “60 Minutes.” The Hamilton interview reasserted claims made a year earlier by Floyd Landis, another former teammate of Armstrong’s who was later caught cheating.
Manderson declined to say whether Hamilton would appear before the grand jury again, but hopes federal authorities will interview some of the people in the bar who witnessed what occurred.
“I hope federal investigators interview the restaurant owner and those in Armstrong’s entourage under penalty of perjury to force them to tell the truth about the incident,” he said.
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