GENEVA - The International Cycling Union "categorically rejects" Tyler Hamilton's allegations that it helped cover up a positive drug test by Lance Armstrong at the 2001 Tour de Suisse.

The UCI insisted yesterday that it had "never altered or hidden the results of a positive test," and that seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong had never been notified of a positive finding.

"The UCI is deeply shocked by the seriousness of the allegations made on the '60 Minutes' program aired by U.S. television network CBS," the body said in a statement. "The allegations of Mr. Tyler Hamilton are completely unfounded."

Hamilton said in an interview which aired Sunday that his former teammate Armstrong used the blood-boosting hormone EPO to prepare for his third Tour win in 2001.

Armstrong told him the UCI helped cover up a positive test at the Swiss warm-up event, Hamilton alleged.

"The UCI can only express its indignation at this latest attempt to damage the image of cycling by a cyclist who has not hesitated to abuse the trust of all followers of cycling on several occasions in the past," the statement said.

Hamilton, who admitted to "60 Minutes" that he doped during his career, twice tested positive for banned substances.

"At no time did he see fit to inform the UCI of the events he claims to have witnessed 10 years ago, and which he is now using in his attempt to harm the UCI," the cycling body said.

"The UCI can only confirm that Lance Armstrong has never been notified of a positive test result by any anti-doping laboratory . . . Once again, the UCI wishes to state that no manipulation or cover-up has occurred in respect of its anti-doping procedures."

The UCI said it reserves the right to take legal action against Hamilton.

CBS' "60 Minutes" also reported that UCI officials helped arrange a meeting involving Armstrong and the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory at Lausanne, which tested the Swiss race samples.

The UCI and its former president Hein Verbruggen, whose 14-year spell in office ended in 2005, denied such a meeting took place.