Statement from U.S. Gold Medalist Tyler Hamilton Regarding Doping Charge issued by SFX Sports Group
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23: The following is a statement from U.S. gold medalist Tyler Hamilton regarding doping charge:
As an athlete I realize that sometimes you may have to lose a few races to gain the knowledge on what it takes to win. Relating to my doping charge, I will say that, up to this point, I have been losing the "pr" war -- partially because I naively thought that if I stated whole-heartedly that I have never and would never engage in blood doping or any form of cheating -- and waited for the process to exonerate me, I would be fine. I also naively thought that officials within the various "anti-doping" organizations would wait for the due process before passing judgment on me publicly. Again I was wrong. I know now that if I wait to discuss at least a few points of fact with the public, by the time I am fully exonerated, and I know I will be exonerated, my reputation may be jeopardized.
So with that being said, I would like to dispel some things that have been said inaccurately in the media.
1. Despite indications to the contrary my A sample from the Olympics, the one that first brought on this issue, was initially determined to be negative for blood doping. When it was re-analyzed -- and I am not sure why it was re- analyzed -- it was again deemed negative. It was not a clearly positive test as it has been characterized. Instead, the results of both negative tests were reviewed by a "panel of experts" and then apparently deemed positive. This much review of one sample calls into question the validity of this test, which has been criticized by many very reputable scientists as being inaccurate and unreliable. To this day, I have not been provided any paperwork from the IOC that states my A Sample was positive.
As blood testing is a fact of life for a professional cyclist, it is critical that tests are reliable and proven. On that note, I have been tested over 50 times throughout my career and this is the first time I have ever even been questioned, so again this is new and beyond upsetting to me. Everyday throughout the world, somebody gets news of a false medical test result. Fortunately, in most of these cases the "false positive" is correctable.
2. Again, contrary to what you have heard in the media, my B sample from the Olympics was not accidentally frozen. I have no idea why an official would lie about this procedure but for the record, the protocol is for the B sample to be frozen when the A sample is negative. This was the case with me after my A Sample was deemed negative and is why the lab froze the B sample, as opposed to a lab "mistake."
Moreover, comparing my test results from Athens to "test results" from Spain reveal serious inconsistencies, which could mean that 1) the test itself is invalid; 2) the test method was not followed; or 3) that one of the samples is not my blood. On this note, I have asked numerous times for my blood to be DNA tested. I have been turned down and also not been allowed to have independent scientists review the findings. In addition, repeated requests to review the raw data and the testing protocol have been thwarted or denied. Doesn't that sound odd?
To conclude, these are only a few points of the many that I will be bringing up during the examination process of my case, but I wanted people to have these facts to consider.
I know we are living in an age where we unfortunately hear about athletes who cheat and I have to admit that, prior to this, when I saw something on the news regarding doping or some kind of cheating, it seemed very black and white. I have now learned that drug testing is very complicated, and mistakes can be made. I have always admitted when I have made tactical mistakes in races, and I hope that when this case is over, the testers and the agencies involved will admit to their mistakes as well.
I also believe that it is important to keep sports clean and wholly understand that testing is a necessity and will continue to adhere by the rules. This is why it is all the more important that we have a process to expose doping/cheating that works. We need to have officials who protect the process, which includes reserving judgment until all avenues are explored and validated, and utilizing tests that are absolutely accurate. It is unfair to work through the kinks on new and unproven tests with athletes who have trained a lifetime and whose whole livelihood can be eliminated with an inaccurate test.
In the end, I am not a lawyer, scientist or a publicist so I am learning how to win this particular race fairly in the only way I know, with the truth. What I am is a guy who loves to ride his bike and compete and I have done so for 10 years without ever bending the rules.