Lance Armstrong Investigation
Several people have expressed an interest in following the proceedings of the investigation into doping allegations regarding Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Team. We've decided to post an impartial timeline of the events as they occur.
Beginning May, 2010
- Former 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his title due to discoveries of synthetic testosterone in his system, sent an email to top cycling officials in France and the U.S. In this letter he admits to years of doping during his career and proceeds to provide details of performance enhancing drug use within the United States Postal Service Team. Landis points the finger at top cyclists such as George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie, and Lance Armstrong.
- These doping allegations by Floyd Landis were enough to generate a federal investigation of the Postal Service Team by the Food and Drug Administration. Landis claimed that doping and the use of blood transfusions were supported and even encouraged by Lance and his manager, Johan Bruyneel. Lance Armstrong has vehemently denied any involvement in any of these doping practices.
It has been suggested that an informal investigation had begun much earlier, during the trial of professional cyclist Joe Papp who had been charged with the distribution of performance enhancing drugs. During his trial, he produced a "black book" of customers - many of whom were professional athletes.
- Jeff Novitzky was assigned as lead investigator in the doping investigation. He is known for his prior cases involving the prosecution of major steroid distributors and professional athletes that included Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, and Tim Montgomery. At 6-foot-7, Novitzky, faced a promising career as a basketball player, but was plagued by back and knee injuries during college.
- Authorities begin issuing subpoenas to former teammates and other possible witnesses for grand jury testimony.
- Attorney for Lance Armstrong, Bryan D. Daly criticizes Novitzky's methods, and claims inappropriate information was being leaked to create a media frenzy.
- As quoted in the New York Times, Daly states, "We understand that riders may be being offered sweetheart deals to change testimony that they have given in the past, under oath," Daly said. "The power of the federal government is being abused to pursue dated and discredited allegations, and that's flat-out wrong, unethical, un-American, and a waste of taxpayer dollars."
- Allen Lim, exercise physiologist for Armstrong's Team RadioShack testified before the federal grand jury. The same day, Alberto Contador, three-time Tour de France winner was suspended and remains under investigation for steroid use.
- Family friend, Stephanie McIlvain also appeared before the jury. In 1996, she was in the hospital room with former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy, who claimed they overheard Lance admit to his physician that he took a number of drugs including steroids, EPO and human growth hormone. McIlvain claims she never heard such an admittance.
- Former team mate, Yaroslav Popovych testified before the grand jury, and his home in Tuscany, Italy was raided by the police. The contents of his phone and laptop are being examined.
- Investigators are now working with France's anti-doping agency in an attempt to gain access to all previous urine samples still being stored here - including those of Lance's dating back to 1999.
- Armstrong advisor, Mark Fabiani, criticizes the investigation in an Associated Press interview:
''American taxpayer money is being squandered on a European trip for FDA investigators to dredge up old allegations that have already been thoroughly examined and completely discredited. All of Lance's samples were clean when they were first provided and tested, and no amount of tax-money-wasting European meetings can change that fundamental fact.''
- Floyd Landis is back in the spotlight with new accusations of doping cover-ups in the International Cycling Union. He claims it was widely acknowledged that the UCI discriminately protected certain riders - a practice supported by officials, including Hein Verbruggen, the former UCI president.
- Associated Press reports that Contador has submitted his defense documents in response to a failed doping test in the Tour de France. He claims that he consumed beef that was tainted with Clenbuterol, a muscle-building steroid.
- Floyd Landis wore a wire and hidden video camera during conversations with cycling team owner Michael Ball. Evidence of doping paraphenalia and refrigerated growth hormone were used by Novitzky to obtain a search warrant. Although there is no connection between Ball and Lance, this helped to fuel the investigation of doping in professional cycling and whether there was a link to any of Lance's teams.
- According to recent article in the NY Daily News, Landis has filed a "qui tam whistleblower suit" against Lance and backers Bill Stapleton, Bart Knaggs, Thom Weisel and Johann Bruyneel. In this situation, if the Department of Justice has reason to believe that Armstrong defrauded the government, they can join in the suit, whereby increasing the financial penalty by three times the amount. It appears Novitzky is pulling out all the stops to prove Lance's guilt. One has to wonder what personal motives are driving this witch hunt.
- The Case Against Lance Armstrong - Sports Illustrated outlines the Lance investigation, and looks at some of the latest evidence including:
- after a search of Yaroslav Popovych's house an assortment of medical supplies and performance enhancing drugs.
- there were emails dating into 2009 linking team Radio Shack to Italian physician Michele Ferrari - Lance claimed he had severed ties with the doctor in 2004.
- Lance may have acquired an oxygen-boosting drug, still in development by Baxter Healthcare Corp. It has similar properties to EPO, but with less risk.
- New Zealand cyclist Stephen Swart names Lance as the "driving force" behind the team use of EPO. Rider's blood levels were tested on a daily basis to determine correct EPO dosages.
Lance Announces His Retirement from Professional Cycling
- Still no word from the Grand Jury regarding any formal charges being laid, but on February 16, Lance officially announces his retirement from professional racing. As reported by the Houston Chronicle:
"One thing Armstrong vowed not to do was spend much time reliving his accomplishments on the bike."
"In 10 years time," he said, "if I'm sitting around saying, 'I was so strong on L'Alpe d'Huez in 2001,' then I got a problem."
CBS 60 Minutes Interview with Tyler Hamilton
- CBS aired an interview on 60 Minutes with Lance's former teammate, Tyler Hamilton. He claims the two of them engaged in blood doping and used other PEDs. Mark Fabiani has attacked CBS for airing an interview based on rumours, and that Hamilton's only goal was to generate publicity for his new book.
The Federal investigation against Lance Armstrong is closed!
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. stated in a press release that his office “is closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong.”This is is great news for Lance supporters everywhere!
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Brings New Charges Against Lance Armstrong
- In a sudden turn of events, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has brought charges against Lance Armstrong. Basically considered "guilty until proven innocent", Lance is banned from participating in any triathlons as a result of it. In a quote from a recent article in Washington Post, Lance states:
“I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one,” Armstrong said in a statement released by his publicist. “That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.”
Lance needs your support more than ever!