It seems that the Tour of California, the only major US bike race, has become the preferred time for Lance attacks. For the second year in a row, the Tour was overshadowed by more charges against Lance, some sensible and some improbable.
Last year, the charges came from Floyd Landis. This year, they came from Tyler Hamilton. Both have one thing in common that they don't share with Lance: their careers were ended by positive doping tests: Landis during the 2006 Tour de France (which was followed by a need for hip surgery); Hamilton three times -- during the 2004 Olympics, the 2004 Vuelta a Espana, and an off-season positive steroid test in 2009 (which led to an 8-year ban).
As I've said before, I believe that Lance used EPO during the 1999 Tour, when he rode with his weakest team and recorded his fastest time. So, to the extent that Hamilton claimed that Lance used EPO then, I believe him. I also believe that every other team in that race was using EPO.
The charges about later years are more difficult to evaluate. I figure that Lance's association with Dr. Ferrari was so that he could move to a blood transfusion regimen for subsequent Tours. I also expected that he quit blood doping after he split from Dr. Ferrari at the end of 2003 (which is when he won his fifth Tour). Hamilton claims that he saw Lance using EPO at this time, but that would be inconsistent with what we think we know. That tends to call all of Hamilton's charges into question.
Similarly, Hamilton's charge that Lance tested positive during the 2001 Tour of Switzerland but bribed his way out of it sounds good if you're a conspiracy theorist or a reporter with no knowledge of pro cycling. But it sounds nuts to me. There are simply too many people with access to such tests through WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is associated with the IOC) for anything to be successfully covered up through a bribe. This is as crazy as Landis' charge that USPS faked a bus breakdown so the whole team could dope during one Tour. If that was true, the bus driver could put his kids through college with the amount of money that he could earn by selling his story to the European press.
So what did George Hincapie testify to in front of the grand jury? And how could CBS have known it? I don't know, and there is no reason to credit the rumors, which probably came from one of the lawyers somehow involved in the case.
If Hincapie testified that all of Postal took EPO prior to the 1999 Tour, I'd believe it. But we'll have to wait and see. And I really doubt that there was any team-wide doping program after Vladi Ekimov rejoined US Postal at the start of the 2000 season -- although, again, if Hincapie and Kevin Livington testified otherwise, I'd believe them.