Lance Armstrong's Reputation Has Hit Bottom. Time For His Former Friends to Cash In.

Lance Armstrong's decision last week to stop fighting the doping charges leveled against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency wasn't an admission of guilt, though it sure seemed that way: The next day was the deadline for contesting USADA's evidence at an open hearing complete with a parade of witnesses with knowledge of the cyclist's alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. That likely won't stop the agency from revealing that evidence at an Armstrong-less hearing.

And so, cue the salacious tell-alls. They've been coming out in drips over the course of Armstrong's career, but now, with the swell of media interest at its crest and his public image at its nadir, two former confidants are seizing the opportunity.

First, we have a book by former teammate Tyler Hamilton. It won't be published until next week, but Sports Illustrated took a sneak peek yesterday.

Hamilton discusses at length his own descent into performance-enhancing drug use and said the team started even before Armstrong joined in 1998. He and Armstrong soon became roommates and confidants who would discuss using the blood-booster EPO and other PEDs.

"Nobody sets out wanting to dope," Hamilton said.

While visiting Armstrong's home in Nice shortly before the 1999 Tour, Hamilton said he asked him if he had any EPO and Armstrong pointed to the refrigerator. Hamilton took it, thanked Armstrong and remarked to himself how cavalier Armstrong was about simply keeping it in the refrigerator.

Hamilton described a doping plan put in place by the team for the 1999 Tour de France, with Armstrong's knowledge, that included a motorcyclist riding behind racers with a thermos full of EPO. It was to be dispensed to riders in the team camper after race stages.

He said team leaders, doctors and mangers encouraged and supervised doping and PEDs were handed out to cyclists in white lunch bags.

Hamilton said he and Armstrong sat near each other to take a blood transfusion after the 11th stage of the 2000 Tour de France, under the watchful eye of team director Johan Bruyneel. That would have been right before the Tour's punishing and famous Ventoux mountain stage.

Many of the allegations had been aired before in a federal criminal investigation and a 2011 interview with 60 Minutes, but all that was pro bono. People pay you for writing books.

They pay you for writing magazine pieces, too, which is what Armstrong's former personal assistant Mike Anderson has just done for Outside.

The PED allegations Anderson makes have also been aired before but, as Texas Monthly notes, Anderson's problem isn't so much with the drugs as the fact that Armstrong was a arrogant prick who wouldn't hesitate to throw his friends under the bus.

He might be sympathetic to Armstrong's current plight, he writes, "if I hadn't worked for Armstrong, hadn't seen him act so often based on a combination of self-interest and spite." Then, 11 pages of elaboration. Armstrong's lawyer calls Anderson "a disgruntled former employee."

Lance Armstrong, despite the good work he's done with the charities and likable public persona, does seem like he can be a dick, and maybe he took most of the stuff people accuse him of taking. Perhaps Armstrong needs a bit of comeuppance, but these pieces and pure opportunism, all in the time-honored tradition of profiting off the misfortune of others, I suppose.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson

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