Lance Armstrong-Tyler Hamilton tiff in Aspen's Cache Cache now a federal case?

Two guys meet up in a bar and exchange a few words. Nobody gets hurt. No reason to make a federal case out of it.

Unless, of course, the two guys are Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton. Then the FBI, the AFLD and even TMZ want to know exactly who said what to whom.

Hamilton, the Olympic cycling gold medalist and former Armstrong teammate who accused the Tour de France legend of doping on 60 Minutes last month, was in Aspen last weekend and strolled into one of Armstrong's favorite hangouts, Cache Cache, for dinner with friends. Armstrong happened to be there, too.

On his way back to his table from the men's room, Hamilton was stopped in the bar by Armstrong. According to this post at Outside, which first reported the altercation, Hamilton claims Armstrong started berating him. "He wanted to get into it," Hamilton told the magazine's Abe Streep.

Armstrong maintained that the exchange was "awkward for both of us" and "truly uneventful." But Chris Manderson, Hamilton's lawyer, was apparently concerned enough about the tone of the conversation that he notified the FBI, which is looking into the matter for possible witness tampering.

"Would you feel threatened if someone said to you, 'We're going to destroy you on the witness stand and we're going to make your life a living hell?'" Manderson told the New York Times in this account. "Not a lot of shades of gray there."

The FBI is reportedly seeking surveillance video from the restaurant and interviewing other possible witnesses. Cache Cache co-owner Jodi Larner told the Times that Armstrong never even got off his bar stool during the brief conversation.

Regardless of what was actually said, we probably haven't heard the last of this. But while grand juries and doping investigations continue, you'd think two dudes as mobile as Armstrong and Hamilton could find a way to steer clear of each other.

More from our Sports archive: "Lance Armstrong doped in opinion of Bicycling editor and Tour De Lance author Bill Strickland."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast