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Lance Armstrong's Lawyers Demand On-Air Apology From '60 Minutes'

Two former teammates have accused cycling superstar Lance Armstrong of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Thao Nguyen
Two former teammates have accused cycling superstar Lance Armstrong of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Lawyers for cyclist Lance Armstrong are asking for an on-air apology from CBS News' 60 Minutes. Last month, the news magazine aired an interview with Tyler Hamilton, one of Armstrong's teammates, in which he said he saw Armstrong take performance-enhacing drugs. Hamilton also alledged that the International Cycling Union helped him conceal a positive test result at a Swiss event.

The AP reports:

In a letter sent Wednesday to CBS News Chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager, lawyer Elliot Peters said the May 22 segment about Armstrong was built on a series of falsehoods, and he accused the reputable CBS show of sloppy journalism.

"In the cold light of morning your story was either extraordinarily shoddy, to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit-and-run job," Peters wrote. "In either case, a categorical on-air apology is required."

CBS News spokesman Kevin Tedesco said Wednesday he couldn't immediately comment on the letter, but added: "We consider this the most thorough investigation into doping in the sport of cycling ever done."

Yesterday, the head of Switzerland's anti-doping laboratory, Martial Saugy, told World Radio Switzerland that Armstrong never tested positive for EPO, but instead was one of four "suspicious" cases during the Tour de Suisse in 2001.

Update at 4:56 p.m. ET: '60 Minutes Stands By Its Story'

60 Minutes just released a response to the letter sent by Lance Armstrong's lawyers. Essentially, 60 Minutes does not back down. It says its story is accurate.

"Lance Armstrong and his lawyers were given numerous opportunities to respond to every detail of our reporting for weeks prior to the broadcast and their written responses were fairly and accurately included in the story," Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News, wrote in a statement. "Mr. Armstrong still has not addressed charges by teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie that he used performance enhancing drugs with them."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.