Tyler Hamilton

This article is about the bicycle racer. For the Canadian Idol contestant, see Tyler Hamilton (singer). For the Toronto Star columnist, see Tyler Hamilton (reporter).
Tyler Hamilton

Hamilton at the 2008 Tour of California
Personal information
Full name Tyler Hamilton
Born (1971-03-01) March 1, 1971
Marblehead, Massachusetts, United States
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 65 kg (143 lb; 10.2 st)
Team information
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type All-rounder
Amateur team(s)
1994 Coors Light (stagiare)
Professional team(s)
1995–2001 US Postal Service cycling team
2002–2003 Team CSC
2004 Phonak
2007 Tinkoff Credit Systems
2008 Rock Racing
Major wins

Grand Tours

Tour de France
1 individual stage (2003)
Giro d'Italia
1 individual stage (2002)
Vuelta a España
1 individual stage (2004)

Stage races

Tour de Romandie (2003, 2004)
Dauphiné Libéré (2000)

Single-day races and Classics

National Road Race Championships (2008)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège (2003)
Infobox last updated on
August 10, 2012

Tyler Hamilton (born March 1, 1971) is an American former professional road bicycle racer. He is the only American rider to win one of the Five Monuments of Cycling. Hamilton became a professional cyclist in 1995 with the US Postal Service cycling team. He was a teammate of Lance Armstrong during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tours de France, where Armstrong won the Yellow jersey. He was a key asset for Armstrong, being a very good climber as well as time-trialist. Hamilton appeared at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.[1] In 2004, he won a gold medal at the individual time trial. The first doping test after his Olympic victory gave a positive result, but because the backup sample was frozen, no doping offence could be proven. After he failed further doping tests at the 2004 Vuelta a España, Hamilton was suspended for two years from the sport.

Hamilton came back after his suspension and became national road race champion in 2008. In 2009, Hamilton failed a doping test again, and was banned for eight years, which effectively caused him to retire. In July 2010, he was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in cycling. In May 2011, Hamilton admitted that he had used banned substances in competition, and returned his gold medal. In 2012, he co-authored a book The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, which details his doping practices and experience in the world of cycling.[2] On August 10, 2012 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stripped Hamilton of his 2004 gold medal.[3]


Hamilton attended Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire, where he started cycling. After graduating in 1990, he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder as a ski racer and received a BA in economics in 1994 (although it has been alleged that he did not graduate.)[4]) A back injury (two broken vertebrae while mountain bike training on ski jump) at the University of Colorado developmental ski team in September 1991 ended his skiing and he switched to cycling.

He turned pro in 1995 for the Montgomery Bell Cycling team which later became the U.S. Postal Service cycling team and raced for them in the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tour de France. Hamilton protected Lance Armstrong in the mountains, and was on Armstrong's first three Tour de France winning Postal squads and quickly grew to stardom. Hamilton acted as a scout in individual time trials, riding as hard as possible to provide time-split comparisons for Armstrong. During this time he won the 1999 Danmark Rundt and the 2000 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, winning stages 4 and 5.

In 2001, Hamilton left U.S. Postal for Team CSC. He was made a leader under manager Bjarne Riis. Hamilton fractured a shoulder in a crash in the 2002 Giro d'Italia but still managed to win stage 14 and finish second overall, under 2 minutes behind race winner Paolo Savoldelli. Later that year, he participated in the 2002 Tour de France, riding in support of Carlos Sastre and finished 15th overall. In 2003, Hamilton became the first American rider to win Liège–Bastogne–Liège , breaking away from a select group of riders around four kilometers from the line in wet conditions. He later won the Tour de Romandie that year, as he prepared to race the Tour de France. In the 2003 Tour de France he broke his collarbone on the first stage in a pile-up. Instead of withdrawing from the race, he stayed to finish the tour, and exceeded everyone's expectations when he was able to follow and attack Armstrong up Alpe d'Huez on stage 8. Later, he rode one of the Tour's most memorable feats, winning stage 16 with a 142 km solo breakaway, gaining two minutes over the field. For his stage win, Hamilton was awarded the Coeur de Lion prize (French for Heart of the Lion, the name of the cheese maker that sponsored the award), as the most daring racer of the stage. He finished the 2003 Tour de France 4th overall and returned home nationally recognized.

In 2004, Hamilton left Team CSC and joined the Phonak Hearing Systems. He assembled a team of good, well-known riders and preapared for racing in the upcoming Tour de France, winning the 2004 Tour of Romandie for the second year in a row. As well, he placed 2nd in the 2004 Dauphine Libere, beating Armstrong up the Mount Ventoux time trial which gave him the title as one of the Tour de France favorites. However, in the 2004 Tour de France he dropped out on stage 13, after back pain mostly due to a crash on stage 6.[5]

His former wife, Haven Hamilton and golden retriever Tugboat became recognizable at the races, appearing in photos and interviews. The bicycle racing publication VeloNews reported that Hamilton and his wife Haven amicably separated in spring 2008 after nine years' marriage, and the couple subsequently divorced.[6] Hamilton disclosed in an interview in April 2009 that he had been treated for depression for six years.[6]

Olympic gold and doping confession

Hamilton's later career was marred by blood doping scandals. The first case came in the 2004 Olympics, when he was accused of blood doping by Olympic officials. Hamilton was allowed to keep his medal. Later that year, he was accused again of doping, in the Vuelta a España, and subsequently served a two-year suspension from racing. He returned to the sport for the 2007 season only to be suspended by his team after being implicated in the Operation Puerto drug scandal. He returned a second time to the sport and retired in April 2009 when he failed an out-of-competition check for taking an herbal anti-depressant which contained the banned substance DHEA.[7]

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Hamilton won the gold medal in the men's individual time trial. That medal was placed in doubt on September 20, 2004, after he failed a test for blood doping (receiving blood transfusions to boost performance) at the Olympics. Two days after the announcement of his positive test at Athens, the IOC announced Hamilton would keep his medal because results could not be obtained from the second sample. The Athens lab had frozen the backup, which made it impossible to repeat the test.[8] The Russian Olympic Committee appealed to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport to give Hamilton's medal to Russian silver medalist Viatcheslav Ekimov. However, on June 27, 2006, the court rejected the request.[9]

Hamilton had just withdrawn from the Vuelta a España. He won the stage 8 time trial on September 11, 2004, but left the race six days later, citing stomach problems. As winner of the stage, he had a doping test. He was told by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) on September 13, 2004 that his two samples from two days earlier showed a "foreign blood population."[10] After supporting Hamilton, Phonak team managers withdrew their support after a second member of the team, Santiago Pérez, was found positive for the same offense at the 2004 Vuelta a España.[11]

The positive sample at the Olympics, and the positive test at the Vuelta were not the only indications that Hamilton was manipulating his hematocrit level. In April 2004 his blood was found to have a high ratio of hemoglobin to reticulocytes (young red blood cells), indicative of EPO or blood doping. His score was 132.9; a clean athlete would score 90.[12] The UCI suspends a rider if the score exceeds 133. This sample also showed someone else's blood was in his bloodstream. However, neither piece of evidence in isolation constituted a positive drug test (and the test for a mixed cell population had not yet been adopted), so no action was taken.[4]

On April 18, 2005 Hamilton was sanctioned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency and received a two-year suspension,[13] the maximum sentence for a first offense.

On May 18, 2005, he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport but, after allowing Hamilton to gather evidence, the court dismissed his appeal.[14] Hamilton claimed the UCI-sanctioned test was insufficiently validated (and may have returned a false positive result) and that some of the agencies involved had concealed documents that would support his case. He also maintained that, even if foreign cells were present, they were natural and not the result of a transfusion.

Hamilton was banned until September 22, 2006, two years from the date his "B" sample in the Vuelta a España was found positive.

In 2010, Hamilton was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury to testify in their doping investigation of Lance Armstrong. Hamilton admitted in his testimony that he took banned performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career.[15][16]

On May 20, 2011, he also made the confession in an email to friends and family after a taping of the TV news show 60 Minutes, during which he also implicated Lance Armstrong in the doping scandal.[17][18] Hamilton then voluntarily surrendered the gold medal he won at the 2004 Summer Olympics to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which said it would continue its joint investigative work with the IOC.[19]

On August 10, 2012, the IOC officially stripped Hamilton of his 2004 Olympic gold medal and ordered that it be returned to them.[20][21]

Operación Puerto

On June 18, 2006, the Madrid daily El País alleged that the Spanish civil guard investigation of doping in Spanish professional sport, "Operación Puerto", had found that Hamilton paid more than 50,000 USD to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes between 2002 and 2004 to plan and administer his use of performance-enhancing erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormone treatment, blood doping, and masking agents.[22] El País charged that Hamilton's 2003 win of Liège–Bastogne–Liège followed by days a "double" blood transfusion planned by Fuentes. The evidence presented by El País also implicated Hamilton's wife in facilitating Hamilton's doping. Fuentes was arrested with team director Manolo Saiz in May 2006 as part of the Operación Puerto investigation.

On June 26, 2006, Hamilton stated on his website: "I was very upset to read the accusations against me and to see my name associated with the Operación Puerto investigation in Spain. I have not been treated by Dr. Fuentes. I have not done what the article alleges. In addition, I have never been contacted by authorities in Spain regarding these allegations. Therefore, it is impossible to comment on a situation I have no knowledge of."

The Copenhagen daily, Politiken, published further charges stemming from Operación Puerto on August 19, 2006.[23] The article summarizes Hamilton's alleged doping program during 2003. It quotes Danish doping researcher Rasmus Damsgaard on the organization Hamilton's program would have required. It cites Bjarne Riis, Hamilton's directeur sportif in 2003, denying knowledge of Hamilton's doping. And the article states that the reporters attempted to contact Hamilton on numerous occasions but were unable to reach him. The article's allegations are based on the rider's doping and racing calendar obtained by the paper. The calendar was seized in Operación Puerto. The doping calendar indicates use of EPO, growth hormone, testosterone, blood doping, and insulin on 114 days over seven months during the 2003 season. The racing program correlates with Hamilton's races in 2003, according to Politiken. The calendar includes two blood transfusions during the Tour de France. “The first time before the three stages in the Alps and the second before the 12th stage – a 47 km individual time trial,” write the reporters. The article stated that such an ambitious program would have required assistance – “at least four or five people,” according to Damsgaard.

The next day, August 20, 2006, the Belgian Dutch language Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper published more details of Hamilton's doping diary. Among many allegations, the article claims he took EPO 30 times between December 2002 and February 2003 while riding for Team CSC. In 2003, claimed Het Laatste Nieuws, Hamilton used doping on 114 of his 200 racing days.[24]

On September 14, 2006, USA Cycling announced information from the (UCI) "regarding Tyler Hamilton and his alleged involvement in 'Operación Puerto' along with a request to move forward with disciplinary action." USA Cycling referred the case to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.[25]

On April 30, 2007, La Gazzetta dello Sport published allegations that Spanish authorities had completed a second dossier on Operation Puerto, 6000 pages long and naming 49 cyclists. Hamilton was again named, with the detail that he was #11 on Dr. Fuentes's coded list of clients.[26]

Hamilton did not admit any wrongdoing at the time, and his defense was based on personal integrity. As US cyclist Bobby Julich who finished third in the Athens time trial that Hamilton won noted:

"It goes against everything I've ever seen or known from the guy. But the rest of us at the Olympics passed the test. Why didn't he? I'm sick of people who cheat, sick of cleaning up their mess and trying to explain it. There is heavy evidence against him. With that much evidence, I don't know how he's going to get out of it."[4]

Ironically, Julich confessed in 2012 that he doped during his career.[27] The same year, Hamilton published a book, "The Secret Race" where he admits he was the client "4142" in Fuentes' documents.[28]

Return to cycling

Hamilton in November 2007.

Beginning in spring 2007, Hamilton began cycling again, having completed his two-year ban. He rode briefly for Tinkoff Credit Systems. It supported Hamilton in the face of Operation Puerto rumors. However, on May 9, with rumors circulating about Hamilton's role in the April 30 dossier, the team dropped him for the 2007 Giro d'Italia.[29]

In September 2007, Tyler competed at the US national championship in South Carolina, coming sixth in the time trial and 12th in the road race.[30] In December, Rock Racing said Hamilton would ride for them in 2008. Rock Racing was a professional team on the US circuit. Hamilton did not ride in the team's season-opening Tour of California because of that race's rules against riders involved in doping investigations.

Wearing his Rock Racing gear, Tyler Hamilton finished second of approximately 60 category one and two riders March 9, 2008 at a collegiate criterium in Denver's City Park.[31]

In July 2008 he won the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China which is a top ranked race (UCI 2.HC). In August 2008 he won the US National Road Race Championship.

Second positive test

On April 17, 2009 it was revealed that Tyler had failed an out of competition drug test; this time for a banned steroid (DHEA), which he claimed to be taking for anti-depression purposes despite knowing that it is on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list. He announced his decision to retire.[32] In June 2009, Hamilton was given an eight-year ban after testing positive for a banned anti-depressant.[33]

Tyler Hamilton Training

Since September 2009,[34] Hamilton has been providing private training services to other cyclists.[35]


On September 5, 2012, Random House (Bantam Books) published Hamilton's memoir The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, coauthored with American writer Daniel Coyle.[36] It won the 2012 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.[37] In the book, he details his career and his relationship with Lance Armstrong, for whom he was a teammate and a confidant. It also details some of the doping practices he and Armstrong were using on the U.S. Postal Service team, such as EPO injections and blood transfusions. They parted ways when Hamilton went riding for CSC. This decision was motivated by the fact that Armstrong had become cold and vindictive toward him. Hamilton then recounts the 2 years spent riding for Bjarne Riis, his sympathy for the former rider and how Riis introduced him to Eufemiano Fuentes, a Spanish doctor who would be later investigated in the Operacion Puerto doping affair. He then recounts his years on the Phonak Team when he tested positive during the Vuelta a España to an alleged homologous blood transfusion.

Despite admitting throughout the work that he very regularly used EPO, testosterone pills and patches, and autologous blood transfusions (all banned practices), Hamilton staunchly opposed the sanction, since he had never used the blood of another person. It was speculated that Fuentes and his assistant had mixed the blood of another rider with his. His career in a shambles, he raced for lesser team after his suspension, tested positive for DHEA (in an OTC herbal anti-depressant) and retired. He later received a call from federal investigator Jeff Novitzky, who wanted to talk to him. He refused and was served a subpoena, whereupon he decided to tell everything. Some former teammates of Lance Armstrong and other witnesses appeared, until the federal government dropped the charges. The USADA took over the investigation under civil law, and Armstrong was ultimately stripped of all his titles from August 1998 onward. He was also banned from bicycle racing and triathlon competition.[38][39]

Career achievements

Major results

Captained University of Colorado at Boulder road cycling team to NCCA championship; named collegiate cyclist of the year.
1996 US Postal-Montgomery
1st Overall Teleflex Tour
Stage 3
1st Overall Fitchburg Longsjo Classic
1997 US Postal
Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
1998 US Postal
1999 US Postal
1st Overall Danmark Rundt
Stage 4b
Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
13th Overall Tour de France
2000 US Postal
1st Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Stage 4 and 5
4th Overall Ronde van Nederland
Stage 4 (ITT)
2001 US Postal
14th Overall Tour de Suisse
2002 CSC-Tiscali
2nd Overall Giro d'Italia
Stage 14 (ITT)
4th Overall Danmark Rundt
10th Overall Ronde van Nederland
2003 Team CSC
1st Overall Liège–Bastogne–Liège
1st Overall Tour de Romandie
Stage 5 (ITT)
2nd Overall Tour of the Basque Country
4th Overall Tour de France
Stage 16
6th Overall Critérium International
2004 Phonak
1st Time Trial Summer Olympics
1st Overall Tour de Romandie
Stage 5 (ITT)
1st Points Classification
1st Stage 8 (ITT) Vuelta a España
2nd Overall Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
9th Overall Liège–Bastogne–Liège
Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
2008 Rock Racing
1st Overall Tour of Qinghai Lake
Stage 8
1st National Road Race, Cycling Champion

Grand Tour General classification results timeline

Grand Tour 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Giro 2
Tour 69 51 13 25 94 15 4 WD
Vuelta DNF WD

WD = withdrew


See also


  1. "Tyler Hamilton". Sports-reference.
  2. Laura Weislo (5 September 2012). "The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle - book review". BikeRadar. Future Publishing Limited. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  3. IOC formally strips Tyler Hamilton of Athens gold
  4. 1 2 3 David Walsh (2007). From Lance to Landis. Ballantine Books. pp. 192–209.
  5. "Cycling > Inside This Sport > History". NBCSports. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  6. 1 2 Bonnie D. Ford: Whether or not you believe Tyler Hamilton, it's a dispiriting day for cycling – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2009-04-18). Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  7. Bonnie D. Ford (April 18, 2009). "Hamilton says he's retiring from cycling". ESPN.
  8. Hamilton faces Greek drug probe, BBC on Monday, 20 December 2004.
  9. CAS rejects Russian appeal to strip Tyler Hamilton of Olympic gold, USAToday.com on Tuesday, 27 June 2006.
  10. Hamilton fails dope tests, BBC on September 21, 2004.
  11. Hamilton third Phonak member dismissed for doping, ESPN on Tuesday, November 30, 2004.
  12. "Wire in the blood: Part I". Cyclingnews.com. November 22, 2005.
  13. Hamilton given two-year doping ban, CNN on Tuesday, April 19, 2005.
  14. International Court for Arbitration in Sport, February 11, 2006 (See: Case Law).
  15. Macur, Juliet (September 16, 2010). "Recording May Play Role in Armstrong Inquiry". The New York Times.
  16. Combs, Drew (May 22, 2011). "Q&A: Cyclist Tyler Hamilton's Lawyer on Why His Client Came Clean". The Am Law Daily.
  17. "Tyler Hamilton's letter of confession". Cyclingnews.com. May 20, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  18. "Former teammate: I saw Lance Armstrong doping". Cbsnews.com. May 20, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  19. Hamilton gives back Olympic time trial gold medal. Cyclingnews.com (2011-05-20). Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  20. "Olympic officials strip American cyclist of gold medal". CNN. August 12, 2012.
  21. Wilson, Stephen (August 9, 2012). "IOC to Strip Cyclist Hamilton of Athens Gold". NBCSports.com. Associated Press. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  22. (Spanish) Las transfusiones y los dólares de Tyler Hamilton, El País, Monday, June 26, 2006.
  23. (Danish) CSC-stjerne på omfattende dopingprogram i 2003, Politiken, August 19, 2006.
  24. Extensive doping alleged for Hamilton. Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  25. "As ban ends, US cyclist Hamilton facing another probe," AFP, September 14, 2006
  26. "Nuovo dossier di 6000 pagine. E nuovi nomi," La Gazzetta dello Sport, April 30, 2007
  27. Shane Stokes (25 October 2012). "Bobby Julich leaves Team Sky after doping admission". Velo Nation. Velo Nation LLC. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  28. Hamilton, Tyler (2012). The Secret Race. Bantam books. p. 159. ISBN 9780345530417.
  29. Tinkoff suspends Hamilton, Jaksche and Hondo. VeloNews.com, May 9, 2007
  30. USA Cycling Championships website
  31. VELOBIOS.com Tyler Hamilton
  32. Hamilton tests positive, retires. Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  33. "Eight-year ban for rider Hamilton". BBC Sport. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  34. Bike Blips, 7/21/2009. Bikeblips.dailyradar.com. Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  35. Tyler Hamilton Training. Tyler Hamilton Training. Retrieved on 2012-02-20.
  36. "Hamilton To Release Autobiography". Cyclingnews.com. 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
  37. Sean Ingle (26 November 2012). "The Secret Race wins William Hill Sports Book of the Year for 2012". The Guardian. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  38. "The UCI recognises USADA decision in Armstrong case". UCI. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  39. Hamilton, Tyler (2012). The Secret Race. Bantam Books 2012. p. 279. ISBN 9780345530417.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Levi Leipheimer
USA National Road Race Champion
Succeeded by
George Hincapie
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