If Britney Spears fell asleep on New Year's Eve, as her manager claims, she did so disturbingly fast, according to onetime "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" host Robin Leach.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News Radio, Leach says he was standing just 6 feet away from the 25-year-old pop star as she rang in the new year at Caesar's Palace's PURE nightclub, and witnessed Spear's collapse.
"She suddenly slides to the floor. Pandemonium and panic break out in her 27-strong person camp," says Leach. "The woman standing 2 feet away from me immediately shouts out at the top of her voice, 'Make sure there are no pictures, no photographers at all!'
"At the same time, her bodyguard, who was 4 feet from me," says Leach, "calls for extra security, and the bodyguards from PURE nightclub race up there."
Spears' manager offered journalists a much different account, saying the pop star fell asleep shortly after the New Year's Eve countdown.
"By about one o'clock, she was just done, so we took her out," Spears' manager, Larry Rudolph, told The Associated Press. "She was not drunk. She was just tired and falling asleep."
Leach, however, vividly recalls Britney's staff throwing an article of clothing over her head just after she went down, as if to prevent her from throwing up.
"They throw … it looked to me like a woolen scarf, almost as large as a blanket … over Britney. Two of her dancers, male dancers, put their hands underneath her armpits. And, covered up, they propel her right out, through the crowded VIP stage, down the steps and out through the crowded bar area into the front of the club," Leach says.
"Now, this was achieved with force and speed. I was amazed how fast they got them out there. All the bodyguards had flashlights, which they shone in the eyes of the clubgoers, so that if they tried to get a photograph, all they would get is the blinding light."
Leach broke the story on his America Online blog less than two hours after it happened, and the story made world press reports by the next day.
Leach says he expected Spears' manager to contradict the account, but he calls the story that she fell asleep that evening totally outrageous.
"I knew the minute that I'd written the story of what I'd seen, because I was the only journalist there … that I was going to be lambasted and crucified for revealing it. Second, I was going to be told that I did not see what I saw," Leach says.
Leach says he suspected that Rudolph might blame the incident on food poisoning, "but instead they came up with 'She fell asleep in a crowded nightclub.'" Leach calls that excuse "absolutely impossible with the noise that was going on there."
ABC News Radio's Al Mancini and ABCNEWS.com's Buck Wolf contributed to this report.