|Tyler will appeal this decision to CAS (Court of Arbitration of Sports)
and feels that his case is stronger than ever
The decision was NOT unanimous. One of the three panelist has
written a rebuttal to the decision and it will be posted shortly
Tyler Hamilton is innocent and will race again.
Tyler Hamiltons Statement:
The announcement has been made that Tyler has been banned
for 2 years from racing after the recent hearing.
Here is what you need to know:
Tyler will appeal this decision to CAS (Court of Arbitration of Sports) and
feels that his case is stronger than ever The decision was NOT unanimous. One of
the three panelist has written a rebuttal to the decision and it will be posted
Tyler Hamilton is innocent and will race again.
More of Tyler's Story:
The day they told me I had tested positive for the banned performance enhancing
method of homologous blood transfusing I threw forward my arm, and said - "It's
a mistake. Take another sample".
I was refused.
At that moment, sometime around 8 PM on September 16, 2004, I began the long
process of trying to get to the bottom of those results.
There has been a lot of speculation about my case so I'll try to set things
straight the best I can issue by issue. Some of the details are more complicated
than others but I'll try to keep things simple. I have nothing to hide, and I
don't mind sharing all the twists and turns of my story with you. Even the parts
I can't explain. Here goes -
Spring Off Scores: An off score is a measurement based on
an equation incorporating hemoglobin and reticulocyte counts. These counts are
measured during random "health tests" conducted on riders during races. They are
also commonly referred to as "vampire tests" - because drug control officers
visit the race hotel to wake riders and take their blood before a start.
Health tests administered on my blood at Liege- Bastogne-Liege,
the Tour of Romandie and Dauphine Libere registered uncharacteristically low
reticulocyte counts, which is the count of new red blood cells.
Medical expert Jim Stray-Gundersen, who has conducted more
than 10,000 blood tests on athletes participating in doping research programs,
testified during my hearing that my reticulocyte counts from these three races
were so low they "are not to be believed". Of the thousands he's evaluated in
his career, he has only seen one test come up as low as mine - and it was an
instance when he knew for a fact, the sample had been "mishandled" during
transport to the lab.
My story really starts at the Tour of Romandie when Phonak
disputed the entire team's hematocrit readings from one of the UCI's morning
health tests . Riders who did both Liege and Romandie showed gains of an average
of 4 points in a span of 4 days. In addition, the readings were also about 4-5
points higher than the team's own results taken the night before.
I had been health tested before the start of Stage 2. After
the stage, I was told I would have to provide an additional anti-doping test
because my hematocrit result from the morning was high. One of the things I was
tested for was EPO. The result was negative.
Hematocrit readings are meant to measure the percentage of
red cells in your blood. These readings can vary for a number of reasons.
Everything from the machine's calibration to the way the sample is drawn can
affect the result. In 2004, multiple teams complained to the UCI about scores
they felt were inaccurate. In fact, Dr. Zorzoli, of the UCI, testified to this
fact in the Phonak/CAS hearing in January.
My hematocrit score at Romandie was inaccurately high. I
know this because I can compare it the UCI's own test from Liege (45.3), taken
just four days before. To give you and idea of how variable these numbers can
be, the UCI test conducted on July 1st, the day before the Tour de France
started, registered my hematocrit at 38. Again, my team complained, but this
time about the score being too low. Inaccuracy of the readings can go both ways.
If someone's hematocrit, hemoglobin or reticulocyte
readings are incorrect, the "off score" will be incorrect. This is why the off
score is not used to determine a doping offense. It is widely known that the
measurements used to calculate the score are prone to some instability.
Warnings: There have been lots of rumors circulating that I
had received multiple warnings about irregularities in my blood tests in 2004.
To clarify, the conversations about the results of my health tests were actually
more about mutual concerns than accusations.
The Phonak team was the first to raise a red flag about
results associated with my tests. The team felt there was something wrong with
the UCI's health test measurements from Romandie. A meeting regarding those
measurements was requested by Phonak, and took place in Switzerland in early
May. I was not present, but the team management and various UCI officials were.
The discussion boiled down to the fact that the Phonak team
and UCI were using hematocrit machines manufactured by different companies.
Phonak agreed to purchase the same machine the UCI uses so if a discrepancy was
ever noted again, there would be a similar starting point at the basis of the
argument. That machine was up and running for the team by the Tour de France.
I also had a face to face meeting with Dr. Zorzoli in June
to discuss my health test results. We spoke at length about my reticulocyte
counts and what the medical explanations for those readings could be. He
recommended a specialist for me to see in Boston to try and get to the bottom of
the results. It was a friendly conversation, during which the topic of the new
blood transfusion test was raised. Dr. Zorzoli noted that the test would be
approved soon, but pointedly noted that I was fine to continue racing.
I was also told that regardless of whether or not we agreed
on the accuracy of my hematocrit reading at Romandie, that result put me in the
out-of- competition testing pool for extra doping tests between races. I did
receive one letter after our meeting confirming this. This news was not
concerning to me because I already thought I was in this pool for having met
other criteria - which were; being ranked in the top 50 in the world, and for
having won an HC Stage race within the last year. In addition, I was already
part of the USADA out-of- competition testing program and had been since the
spring of 2000. So I didn't protest being included. In fact, I welcomed it.
I agreed to help Dr. Zorzoli with the development of the
forms he needed to design to determine the whereabouts of athletes in the
program. We traded multiple emails and faxes regarding this subject in the days
after our meeting.
So for me, nothing had really changed. I planned to follow
up with the hematology specialist in Boston during the off season, and started
the Tour de France two weeks later as planned.
Issues with the Blood Transfusion Test: The
primary issues we raised about this test during my hearing were:
1. Experts for both sides testified that flow cytometry, the test methodology
used for this test, can not prove a blood transfusion has taken place.
2. If the minimum threshold stated in the sole peer review for the test were
applied to my test results from the Olympic Games and the Vuelta Espana, both
tests would have been declared negative.
3. There was no false positive study conducted during the validation of this
4. The "visual criteria" used to determined the results of this test boils down
to an "I know it when I see it" evaluation - which when applied in other doping
tests, has been considered an unacceptable level of detection that cannot stand
alone in determining someone has tested positive. Arbitration panels have stated
in previous cases that quantifiable criteria must confirm "visual" criteria. In
my case there was no quantifiable criteria used.
Issues with My Results: Of the number of
unanswered issues regarding my test results the most concerning are:
The fact the my Olympic A sample was originally declared negative and there was
no B sample test result to substantiate changing it to positive.
The antigens declared positive for "mixed populations" in Athens and the Vuelta
are not the same.
Santi Perez: When Santi was declared guilty on the day my hearing started - it
took two key arguments off the table in my defense. We could no longer contend
my case was the first blood transfusion case. Nor could we state that the test
had not yet been validated through a judicial process.
Santi Perez tested positive in the off-season but not during the Vuelta where he
provided multiple blood samples. And, his judicial hearing was held without him
being present. He plans to appeal his case to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for
The Extortionist: My case is made even more
confounding with the added component of someone threatening the Phonak team with
inside knowledge about Santi and I being positive before either of us were
declared so. Issues and coincidences that cannot be ignored are:
1. On August 25, the extortionist sent his first message stating he knew I would
be announced as "positive" at the Olympics. According to the IOC, that
conclusion was not made until between September 10 and 16.
2. Out of all the Olympic athletes in Athens, and professional cyclists
competing in 2004, the extortionist correctly "guessed" that Santi and I would
3. The extortionist accepted a monetary bribe "to keep an additional rider
clean" and "the Phonak team clean in 2005" on November 3, 2004. At that time he
stated he needed 9 days to determine if everything would be okay. He was
arrested by police after accepting the bribe. Nine days later, the Pro Tour
teams were announced and Phonak was told for the first time, they would be left
off the list
Circumstantial Support: When they told me I
had tested positive I was in discussions with Phonak for a two year extension to
my contract that would have taken me through 2007, when I would be 36 years old.
I had ten individual sponsors, a foundation, a touring company and a film
project on my plate. My life had never been more secure. This was not a time to
risk everything. And I never would have.
In addition, the allegations made during my hearing were
that I transfused once in the winter and again in early June. This simply
doesn't make any sense. A transfusion in January or February would be pointless
since I did not start racing until March. In addition, a wintertime transfusion
would not result in low reticulocyte or high hematocrit counts in late April or
The spring is an important racing period, but it's not a
time when I have any pressure on me to perform. I was happy to win the Tour of
Romandie in May, but my goal for the season was seeing how well I could do at
the Tour de France.
In June, I finished second at the Dauphine Libere but never
once attacked during the race. No one with objectives for the Tour wants to be
flying a month ahead of schedule. Winning the Dauphine was not important to me
or my team. Getting to the Tour healthy and ready to go was. So there's no logic
in the argument that I could have taken a transfusion in early June.
And finally, I would never risk my health or my wife's health for the sake of
racing. That just goes without saying.
Normal Values: My hematocrit, hemoglobin and
reticulocyte readings - that were of such discussion in the spring, were
absolutely normal for the key time periods of my season. My scores all through
the Tour de France, Olympics and Vuelta were in a range consistent with ten
years of health data I have saved. From my perspective, this is an important
point that seemed to have been discounted during my hearing.
When you add my major injuries in the Tour de France that
left me with hematomas in my lower back and deep bruises to my kidneys and spine
- plus two additional crashes in the Dauphine and Vuelta where I suffered
additional bruises and abrasions - it gets difficult to defend the presence of a
foreign blood transfusion taken in early June being visible in tests conducted
in mid September. My body would have been working over time to heal those
injuries - especially the bruises. And that recovery would have flushed away any
evidence of the alleged June transfusion.
One expert who helped develop the test and who also
testified against me during my hearing agreed that it would be a long shot for
an early June transfusion to be visible at the late date of 9/11 - but went on
to allege that I must have been "topping off my blood supply with 100 milliliter
transfusions throughout the summer" for my tests to come out the way they did.
This raises a few questions - the first being what would
topping off a blood supply with shot glass size transfusions accomplish other
than keeping the chances of testing positive alive? And why would anyone go to
the trouble or risk to their health to do this? This allegation, above all, made
me wonder just how invested these researchers were in understanding the practice
they were trying to eradicate.
My case is a very complicated one. I could write on and on
about the issues we raised, the personal toll all this has had on me, my family
and my sponsors and why I think the anti-doping process could be improved. In
the days ahead I'll share more.