Hamilton faces two-year cycling ban

Updated: October 22, 2004, 3:11 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Tyler Hamilton says he will clear his name during a January hearing in Colorado, asking critics and supporters for patience after he tested positive for blood transfusions last month.

Hamilton faces a potential two-year ban from cycling after being unable to finish this year in the Tour de France.

He told The Denver Post he can't discuss specifics of the case, but lawyers and his Swiss-based Phonak cycling team are working to prove the tests were invalid.

"There are people who believe me and people who don't believe me," he said. "There are people on the fence who don't know what to think. I've asked them for patience. I can't say a word. When I tell my side of the story, then they have the right to make their opinion."

The Olympic doping lab in Athens conducted a test that indicated Hamilton used a blood transfusion to boost his endurance. While Hamilton's initial blood sample tested positive, the backup specimen -- or B sample -- couldn't be analyzed because there weren't enough red blood cells left.

Hamilton, 33, has kept his gold medal because an athlete is considered guilty of doping only when both samples come back positive. However, he still faces the ban after both blood samples he provided at the Spanish Vuelta on Sept. 11 came back positive, allegedly showing evidence of a transfusion with blood from another person.

Blood transfusions can boost endurance by pumping oxygen-rich red blood cells to the muscles. Hamilton insists he is innocent.

"The press has called me a cheater and that I'm a liar. For me, that's a kick in the head," he said. "How would you even go about getting blood from somebody else? I have no clue."

Hamilton has kept quiet publicly since his initial statements last month after the test results. He declined comment when asked if he knew of problems with the test.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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