Chris Manderson, the Newport Beach attorney who represents Tyler Hamilton, the disgraced cyclist and former Lance Armstrong teammate, believes Armstrong's apparent doping confession to Oprah Winfrey "brings a day of vindication" to his client and others who suffered blowback after accusing the seven-time Tour de France winner of juicing. Meanwhile, the lawyer tells the Weekly cycling's governing body could be the next to be disgraced.
Armstrong, Armstrong's reps and others who claimed to be in the know strongly
denied admitted doper Hamilton's televised claims in May 2011 that he
and his more famous teammate used banned substances. Last year, Armstrong did not appeal when all his race results since August 1998 were disqualified because he allegedly used and distributed these substances. But Armstrong did not cop to doping until an interview in Austin, Texas, this week with Winfrey, who plans to air it was a two-part special on her OWN cable network Thursday and Friday nights.
"Armstong's confession brings a day of vindication to those who told the truth, only to have their careers and lives destroyed," Manderson tells the Weekly. "Tyler's career never recovered, and he was constantly afraid of Lance's reprisals."
Manderson says he has not heard from Hamilton since news of the Armstrong confession broke, although the lawyer has noticed an uptick in media requests for interviews with his client, who now trains other cyclists in Colorado.
The partner at Newport Beach's Manderson Schafer & McKinlay firm has represented Hamilton since 2009, when he helped the Olympic gold medal winner negotiate an eight-year suspension with the United States Anti-Doping Agency after the cyclist tested positive for doping. Hamilton immediately retired from the sport and, as Manderson put it, wanted to "ride into the sunset." But after Floyd Landis testified in May 2010 that he and other cyclists, including Armstrong, juiced, federal prosecutors eventually showed up at Hamilton's doorstep.
So did producers from 60 Minutes, and after Manderson first tried to dissuade Hamilton from granting an interview, both ultimately decided going on national television could get them "in front of the story." After the damning interview aired, Manderson and Hamilton prepared for bitter denials. By then, the cyclist had already given back his Olympic gold medal. The International Olympic Committee went on to strip Hamilton of his win.
Landis' confession included this shocker: Armstrong bribed Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the Switzerland-based world governing body for international competitive cycling events, to cover up blood test results. As it has done to other cyclists and journalists who have alleged UCI has looked the other way at doping, the organization sued Landis. President Pat McQuaid has consistently maintained it was UCI that introduced blood tests to cycling in the first place. A Swiss court issued a default judgment against Landis last fall in UCI's defamation suit.
But Hamilton also suggested a UCI coverup of Armstrong's doping in the 60 Minutes interview and his book The Secret Race. Given Armstrong's new confession, Manderson suspects McQuaid's denials may be ringing as true as the Livestrong founder's once-vehement claims he never doped.
"Whether Armstrong's atonement is sincere or calculated is debatable, and the public may not accept an apology after all the lies and attacks on others," the lawyer said. "But the New York Times reported today that Armstrong will provide evidence against UCI chief Pat McQuaid and former chief Hein Verbruggen. If that's the case, the sharks have begun to feed on each other, and the public will finally learn just how deep the corruption ran in the sport."
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.